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“Be holy as God is holy.”
In my youth, I had the good fortune of enjoying my grandmother living with us for a few years. She was my dad’s mom, and an 84 year old-school Italian matriarch of the family. She was pleasant to be with, but stern when it came to coming to the supper table to eat. She was “old school” which meant that the meal table was a special and honored place at which to eat, communicate, and relate as family.
News was shared and memories were made at the dinner table. You were expected to eat what was set before you, for it was handmade from scratch and took all day to prepare. And besides, we were reminded of all those starving children in Africa and India who would love to have a taste of the food.
My plump grandma, who we sometimes called “Nonna”, would help my mother cook and many times would relieve my mom from the task by preparing the whole meal herself. It was always good authentic Italian food. Her biggest fetish at meal time was that we kids have clean hands when we came to her table.
I remember her standing at the kitchen door and calling me in from playing street baseball. When I heard her voice I knew I had thirty seconds to get home or all heaven would break loose.
My older sisters and younger brother were already at the table. Mom and dad were there too. At Nonna’s table we had to eat while the meal was hot.
I would run home at her call and gingerly scamper through the kitchen door as I headed for the table. She was really a great cook! She would intercept me at the door and proceed to walk me over to the kitchen sink, where she would point to the sink and in a loving, but commanding voice say, “Ok Carlucci, washa youa handsa!”
So, like most kids, I would turn on the cold water and make the motions of run my hands through it. I would then reach for the towel to dry them. Job done, now the food! But not so. That is usually when Grandma struck. Fast as lightning her hand would reach up and grab the towel before I could get to it. “Atsa no waya to washa yua handsa! Doa ita againa.”
She would then turn on the hot water until steam came out and put my hands in it. She would instruct me saying, “Atsa da watera” and pointing to the bar of soap sitting on the sink tray would declare “anda datsa da soapa. Usea da soapa and washa untilla da jiuca coma coma offa.” To her, the “juica” was the dirt and mud that came off my hands.
After receiving a loving, but serious swat on the back of my head with her leathery hand, I would meekly obey the “Queen of Clean”. Only when the “juica” was swept down the sink drain would she let me dry my red squeaky clean hands on her nice white towel. Then and only then was I now able to sit at her table and enjoy her wonderful dinner. My mom and dad, brother and sisters, always just snickered as they looked at their squeaky clean red hands too.
By the way…that’s how God treats us too! Holy Scripture teaches that He wants our hearts clean before we can taste and see that He is good. Thanks Grandma for caring enough to teach me the right way to come to the Table of Grace.
As always, see you next week and have a great day...