Once the large black stock pot of paella and platter of extra clams and mussels were centered on the table we all sat down to enjoy the bounty. We took our seats around the dining room table, my sister and I on one side, my cousins, Lisa and Gina, on the other, Uncle Lou and Aunt Sylvia anchoring each end. After eating salads with black olives and gorgonzola cheese, crusty bread dipped in olive oil and spices, we heaped serving sized portions of rice, clams, mussels, scallops and shrimp onto our plates. I think we all had seconds, I would have gone for thirds if I thought my stomach could handle it.
Liz and I hadn’t seen our cousins in close to two years. As we feasted, we took turns asking after each other, filling each other in on our jobs, kids (they have children, my sister and I don’t), hobbies, trips. We talked about books read and books we want to read, movies seen and movies we want to see. We lamented the last few snowstorms and the impeding one. We laughed and joked, poked fun at each other, reminisced about days past.
Halfway through lunch all of our cell phones went off, signaling a text message. There were five different melodies, one after another, some ringing at the same time.
“I bet that’s Auntie,” Lisa said, referring to my mother, their aunt. Each of us pulled out our cell phones; Lisa was right, mom had sent us all a text wishing she was with us. We responded by sending her a picture.
Lisa held out Liz’s phone to take our selfie, we all crowded in the frame, Gina pushed the round button that snapped the picture. We made sure none of us were directly below the wreath like the last photos we took there. Liz typed in mom’s phone number and hit send; mom quickly replied. A few more text messages were exchanged, a few more photos taken and then it was time for coffee and dessert.
Liz’s birthday was Monday, Aunt Sylvia took an ice cream cake from the freezer, plunged two candles into the frozen top. We sang Happy Birthday, watched while Liz made her wish, blew out the candles. Gifts were opened, coffee and cake served. You would think after the spread we ate at lunch we’d all be too full for dessert, you’d be wrong.
We all keep in touch on the internet, thanks to Facebook, but when we left we promised each other we’d get together again before another two years had passed. Who knows, maybe mom will even be in that picture.