Garret pushed the paper plates aside and laid the documents out on the dining room table. Garret's elderly mother walked into the room with a trash can to clear the table and said, "What are those?"
"All of her medical receipts. The reason we're so far in debt right now."
His mother took a deep breath and paused. "What do you hope to do with those?"
"She needs to know her irresponsibility is the reason for our struggles."
"How long ago did she get clean?" His mother started to put the paper plates into the trash.
"Right before we got married, but it's still obviously impacting us. I mean didn't you ever confront dad for the damage all his drinking caused?"
"Several times," his mother looked down.
"Oh, good." Garret didn't expect this. "What did he say?"
"After he got angry, he listened and apologized. He tried to stop, often, but it was hard. His childhood was hard."
"Yeah, but it made your life a lot harder! You should have showed him how his actions had consequences!"
"Perhaps I could have done more." She thought for a moment. Then she held up a used paper cup. "Have you ever wondered why I use paper dishes?"
Garret shrugged and his mother continued. "Your father was at his worst at the dinner table. Messy, loud, sometimes yelling at us, as you know, getting his food everywhere. I realized that as I was cleaning the dishes I was holding each broken dish and stained table cloth against him. I realized laboring over it all was making me more angry. That's when I started using paper plates and throwing it all away after every meal. I realized I had to leave some things on the table where it would all be thrown away instead of laboring over each thing he did." She lifted up the plastic table cloth and started to fold it over her side of the table.
"Hmm," Garret mumbled, "Like in poker. Leave your losses on the table."
"Maybe." She lifted another corner of the table cloth. "Where is she now?"
"She's been going to the garden the last few nights. The fireflies are coming out."
"Why don't you join her."
"And leave this all on the table." He looked at his mother.
She nodded as she started folding up his side of the plastic table cloth. "Love is leaving something on the table," she said.
She paused as Garret looked down at the documents. A pained look glazed his eyes as he looked at each price tag. He breathed in deeply and closed his eyes. He held the breath as struggle wrestled across his face. And then as he breathed out his face relaxed. Then in a calm, quiet voice he said. "Thank you, momma."
He nodded to let her continue and got up slowly and left the room. She wrapped up everything on the table and put it in a nice tidy sack in the trash can.
Love is leaving something on the table. The world teaches to operate our lives as a zero sum game. How much have you really left on the table in your life? Do you feel you're mostly even with others? Have you ever truly forgiven or been generous with anything? Today as you see things to hold against others, or how much they won't return what you give, see how much you can leave on the table.
Raw Spoon. Feb 24, 2022