Our Last Supper
Crystal shatters against the table.
“Enough!” I take a breath for foundation. “This is our last dinner together, and I will not have it continue like this.”
Everyone at the table remained motionless. I am certain that each, some more than others, has deliberately been as nice as possible to me and everyone else here since the moment they had arrived today, and that the reason has all to do with my recent news.
Anna wipes blood from my wrinkly hand with one napkin while beginning to bandage it with another. For a moment the anger in me subsides naturally as her eyes meet mine, but I shift my view from her to the rest at the table.
“Aleandro. Fausto. What do you two think you’re doing?”
My boys exchange looks of bewilderment with each other and then to me. They have been nothing but saints tonight, especially toward one another - so unlike themselves. They have always fought, as brothers do, yet there had not been a single moment of conflict tonight.
Further down the table, my daughter Mia’s eyes are wide as she shakes slightly in her chair. I share a private smile with her and she relaxes, a little. You’ll never meet a more gentle and creative soul as hers, yet you’ll also never meet a more self-interested one either. I’ve been her only focus since she arrived at the house today.
Next to Mia is her husband, Sebastian; they have been married for nearly two years. He makes her happy and I have always liked Sebastian, even if I rarely let him in on that fact. He is silent and still now, but that is normal. At the other end of the table sits my lifelong friend Bernard and his wife Sara. Bernard never flinched at my outburst, which in fact had been a surprise to even myself. He instead reacted as if he knew it was coming, which I would not entirely put past him. Sara’s eyes are full of concern and care, two items that she carries wherever she goes.
I had stained the white linen tablecloth with Chianti, and tiny shards of glass were now on the table and in my bowl among the little bit of fettuccine left. I fell in love with Anna as if it had been my natural state, yet her talent as a cook has always been a fully divine perk.
I lift my tired eyes as I begin to address my family and closest friends, and a source of passion is suddenly gifted to me.
“I know you all meant well, but I can’t have this dinner be all about me . . . about it.”
“But Dad-“ began Mia until I lifted my hand for silence.
“I want this dinner to be about us, and for that to happen, we need to be ourselves, like every other year at this dinner. So, Fausto, Aleandro, argue for damn sake.” A few laughs, including mine, broke the tension in the room.
We had begun the meal, much like every year, with a glass of Prosecco, some ricotta, and some bruschetta before the first course. This year it was fettuccine with a delicious creamy tomato sauce that included herbs and spices that truly made it Anna’s own. Her fingers are now caressing my cut hand as if an angelic sense of healing is occurring under their tips, yet if I were ever to go behind her back to discover the names of those special ingredients, I know that those fingers would quickly take a much different type of grasp around my neck: my sweetheart.
My two boys now bring a prosciutto and mortadella dish that my recipe protecting wife made, along with some decanted Valpolicella and a new glass for me. Her hand brushes mine as she pours a glass for me and then herself.
As we eat the soul affirming dish and drink our local wine, Bernard and Sara talk quietly and laugh. Mia meanwhile goes on and on about her recent additions to their garden to Sebastian, who is listening to every word as if they are the only thing breathing life into him. Anna and I share a look down at our two boys, arguing about God knows what, and then we share another look between us that speaks of our fifty years together, now coming to a close. I lean in for a kiss, and as she grants me this one, I feel as blessed for being on the receiving end as I have for every other she has given me. Sitting here now, we fully realize that all the hard work a family is and has been for us, has been worth it. And I know that my legacy, my measure as a man, has been worth it too.
Time for dessert.