Thoughts from the journey… Excerpts from a day in the life of Sherry McLaughlin

8Oct/092

Let’s Eat!

I started writing a book in January 2005. I never finished it, but lately I've been thinking about it...about the importance of people I come in contact with...about the lessons learned that I might have missed had I rushed by too quickly. About the places I've been and the people I've met.

So, I thought I'd share some excerpts from the book that will hopefully get finished one day. I am going to call it, Lessons from a Life.

Good food ends with good talk. – Geoffrey Neighor

Born and raised in a traditional Filipino home, I realized something at a very young age. Food is a good thing. No matter what the occasion or who the company, sounds of pots and pans clanging in the kitchen was a common occurrence. It seemed whenever friends and relatives came to visit, food was being prepared, or they were bringing food to be prepared or they were coming to prepare the food or prepared food was brought.

If you know anything about Filipinos, they never cook alone – and you can fit about 20 of them in an average sized kitchen. From a social perspective, preparation is just as important as consumption.

My dad’s two favorite words, “Let’s eat!” often spoken in the tone of a victorious battle cry, would result in hordes of smiling faces gathering around the kitchen table. Even then, he knew a secret that I had yet to learn: Food is our common ground. A universal experience. – James Beard

During my high school years, I attended a boarding academy. My parents would come and visit once a week, and with them would come – you guessed it – food. I had an entire drawer dedicated for my weekly stockpile of goodies. You can imagine how quickly the word spread. In fact, my parents were integral in spreading the message and as hungry kids would flock to my room each week, they would be supplied with their very own stockpile. Once the proverbial stores were filled, my dad would round up anyone – and I mean anyone – who wanted to jump in the family van, out for dinner. At times, we commandeered half of the tables at the local pizza parlor. Looking back, I realize how much my father must have spent on food for my high school friends.

“Dad, how many friends can I invite?” I would ask.

“As many as you want,” he would reply.

I graduated from high school and went off to college. My life became more of my own. I would come home on vacations and spend days catching up with my friends—eating out.

I got a job, got married and had a child and in those years, meals were rushed or “fit” into my schedule. I used to have a motto: if it couldn’t be cooked in less than 5 minutes, than we weren’t having it for dinner.

On the occasions I would visit my parent’s house, my dad would say, “Come, sit down and let’s eat.”

“Sorry, Dad.” I would reply, “I already ate and besides that, I’ve gotta go.”

If I wasn’t so busy, I might have caught the look of disappointment in his eye. But he would just smile and say, “OK, thanks for coming to visit. See you later.” I know he knew where I was coming from. His life had been just as busy as mine at one point, rushing from office to office, seeing tons of patients, being involved in extracurricular activities and raising a family. After all, I was the one most like him.

As I look back on the years before he passed away, I realize the countless invitations to the kitchen table I received from him. Some of them I accepted. I wish now I would have accepted them all. Hindsight is 20/20. The moments with my dad at the kitchen table are where I learned some of life’s greatest lessons.

For my dad, it was never about the food—it had always been about the time. For as busy as we both were, the kitchen table was a sanctuary all its own. A place where we could stop the rollercoaster of life, slow down, catch up and just be in the moment.

Life Lesson #1

The best gift you can give the ones you love

is a good meal at a nice table,

relished with flavor,

time

and great conversation.

It will fill not only fill the stomach,

more importantly…

it will quench the appetite of the soul.

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  1. Sherry-your words of wisdom from a life well lived leaves me hungering for the next installment. Bravo!

  2. Sherry-I just read your Let’s Eat…it answered a need – “I will host the dinner”.
    You are a treasure!


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