Kitchen Table Memories

kitchen table

Photo Credit: Milkmit (Creative Commons)

As caregivers, we’re so busy putting out fires, and dealing with health care crises that our parents can sometimes feel more like projects to be managed. Here’s to those moments, sometimes few and far between, when we can simply enjoy each other’s company. For my mom and me, it was sitting in the kitchen, sipping coffee, eating lox and bagels, playing Scrabble and laughing over family stories from long ago.   Maybe that’s why this poem by Joy Harjo resonated so deeply. It’s a reminder that lifelong memories can be created in the most ordinary places.

Perhaps The World Ends Here by Joy Harjo

The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

Do you have a kitchen table memory? Share it here or just stop by and introduce yourself. You’ll be entered in a drawing on August 31st to receive a free copy of The Dutiful Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving: A Practical Memoir. Winner’s name will be selected using the tool at


  1. Brenda Balla says:

    For our family, it was actually the dining room table. It’s where all 6 of us sat every Sunday as adults, drinking coffee, and passing around the Sunday paper. Someone was always interrupting the silence with a funny cartoon, an interesting story or a familiar name in the obits. 13 years ago we planned my dad’s funeral around that table. Three weeks ago, my brothers and I sat around that table sobbing after my mother’s body had just been removed from her home of 61 years and taken to the funeral home. Now begins the process of finding a new family for that table. It deserves a good home. It comes with 6 chairs, a hutch and a million memories.

    • Judith Henry says:

      My heart goes out to you, Brenda. Reading your comment, it feels like I am right there with you. Please take care.

  2. suzanne vasquez says:

    As I do my Daughterly duty, each day of taking care of my 84 yr. old Father , my mind races back to years ago. My Grandmother always had me at the Kitchen table with her. Watching , Helping, Talking about the Day, as she prepared food for her large family and prepared for a day of Tending her Family. I want to thank you for this poem , this is a reminder , that I need to sit at that same table now and have my dad sit there with me and see what’s on “his” mind. Ive gotten lost as to the Real Reason that im here … Its more than just cleaning and cooking, its Making Memories <3 Thank You !!

    • Judith Henry says:

      Suzanne – Thank you for sharing what it’s like to be a caregiver. So many challenges, yet making memories, as you put it so beautifully, can soften those hard times a little. Please come back soon. – Judith

  3. Lori says:

    Such a beautiful poem and photograph. So much comfort there. Made me think back to not only my mother and dad’s kitchen table but my grandmother’s as well. That lovely ritual of morning coffee and the paper which still fills me with comfort and memories of my mother, father and grandmother….all gone now, but still present at my own kitchen table. Thank you for making me remember what that was like when they were still well enough to enjoy that same ritual with me.

    • Judith Henry says:

      Lori – So glad you appreciated the poem and photo. As you beautifully describe, that morning ritual of coffee and newspaper brings generations together. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  4. Amy Lohr says:

    Thanks for this lovely poem. My mom died a few months ago at almost 101. She loved her home and particularly loved to cook for friends and family. I will always how she carefully set her table with her crystal, silver and china. The last few years of her life were spent in a nursing home and she longed to go home. When I would pull up a chair to sit close to her at the dining room table at her nursing home, I felt honored to help her eat even though I am sure it humiliated her. She was a lady up to the end, and will always remember that she would always insist that I eat some of her food as she was raised to always offer your guests hospitality; she showed love up to the end by offering the food off her plate, long after she had forgotten how much she loved to cook and break bread with those she loved at the table.

    • Judith Henry says:

      Amy, I am so sorry for your loss. What a moving tribute to your beautiful mom. You’ve truly honored her with your words. Thanks so much for stopping by.

  5. Theresa says:

    Such a lovely photo and poem. Thanks for all you do Judith.

    • Judith Henry says:

      Theresa – As an artist, you understand how evocative a visual can be. There was something so calming and peaceful about that kitchen. Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. Sally Glynn says:

    I live and care for my 87 year old Dad. Our kitchen
    table has given me more memories than I can imagine. My dad over the last 5 years have shared so many of his childhood, army days, getting engaged to Mom and farm life as a kid. It is the heart of our home and definitely where we come together to be close and so connected. I was raised in this house and our table here is 60 years old and truly is the center point of our life stories. I see how Dad seems so at peace when he sits in ” his chair” and we share our meals,
    Great poem and oh so true!!! Truly grateful!

    • Judith Henry says:

      Sally, thanks so much for stopping by. I love how you describe the closeness and connection that you and your Dad have sitting around your kitchen table. How beautiful that you see the special-ness of your Dad’s chair and how it makes him feel.

  7. Judith Henry says:

    Thanks for your beautiful comments, everyone. Lori will receive a free copy of “The Dutiful Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving.” More opportunities for additional gift copies coming up!

  8. Sheri Parker says:

    Our family’s kitchen table was purchased over 50 years ago long ago at an estate auction. Its six leaves permitted its huge platform to hold many family meals around it, invariably making someone go up the back staircase and down the front just to get to the other side! My baby brother used to clear it in his walker until the day he got a little too tall and smacked his head. It was where engagements were told, pregnancies were announced, miscarriages shared, diapers were changed, political affiliations were discussed, and funeral plans were made. That table was passed down to me and my young family. After years of use, including certain children hiding their dreaded veggie portions in its deep nether regions as well as a place for cooling cookies and jams, and the practiced “A” that impregnated its top, it was restored. The hand carved rosettes are in place once again. The new wheels allow movement to add those 6 restored leaves for extended family suppers again. My first grandchild sat there this summer enjoying the harvest of red raspberries from the backyard. My daughter wants the table next. Seems it has become the heirloom of the family!

    • Judith Henry says:

      Sheri, thanks so much for sharing the memories to be found around the kitchen table. What a beautiful and poignant story you’ve told about the power of place. I appreciate your stopping by. Come back soon!

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