“Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” – Warren Buffett
“The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” – Nelson Henderson
Lately, I’ve been thinking about my parents. A lot.
It started with finding a stack of letters my mother had saved. They were letters I’d sent to my parents when I was in the military.
“So removed from daily life was the whole experience that when all was rotten to the core, a fine dinner could revive the spirits. If and when I had twenty dollars left to my name, I was going to spend it right here in an elegant hour that couldn’t be hocked.” – Katey Kontent in Rules of Civility by Amor Towles.
I love eating at restaurants. From 5-star steakhouses to local pubs to all-American diners. Perusing wine lists for the perfect pairing to the meal, gambling on a locally brewed beer, or stirring a thick milk shake with a long spoon. And most importantly, desserts – made-to-order souffle, crème brulee or lemon-meringue pie.
“Suppose you can get what you want…” – Fortune Cookie
A cold February night in New England, with a frigid wind cutting through the air. The restaurant provided a safe haven from the elements. The company and conversation provided the requisite warmth.
A simple dinner with family and friends. The theme for the evening was happiness, and nothing could change the mood. Not the wait – even though we had reservations. Not the crowd at the bar – it just made us stand closer to each other. The waiter was overly apologetic when he forgot the appetizers, but we were so impressed with the dishes in front of us, it didn’t matter. We did appreciate the free bottle of wine he gave the table.
Last week, my mother, Paula Fallon, passed away. As we wrote in her obituary, she lived an amazing life. On Tuesday, October 31, 2017, we held her funeral mass. This was the eulogy I delivered in her honor.
On behalf of the entire Fallon family, I want to thank all of you for joining us in this celebration of Paula’s life.
Paula. Paula Fitzpatrick. Paula Ann Fallon. Mrs. Fallon. The different names that accompanied her over the last 91 years. But that’s not what we called her.
There are some people that when you hear their name immediately make you think of a certain time and place. It may be a classroom from college. A crowded living room after dinner. A deserted beach during the winter.
When I think about my friend, Jamie, I actually think of four people. Jamie, David, Dolores, and me, sharing a meal. Dinner at a nice restaurant. Breakfast at the neighborhood diner. The best place of all – Jamie’s table.
Weeknights at 6:00 sharp. Leftovers on Saturdays. Late Sunday afternoons, usually with a visiting relative. The blessing, led by my father’s brother, a priest. My father at the head of the table. The rest of us vying for the seats closest to the kitchen.
Growing up, the dinner table was a central part of my life. Dinner was the one time of day that all 10 kids and my parents were in the same room. There would be three or four conversations going on at once, with the occasional squabble sprinkled in. And of course, there was my mother’s cooking.