Heaven Is a Dinner Party


the sign outside a library at which I talked about my book

I am winding up the official launch season of my new book, Pulling Taffy. Of course, I hope to talk to more women’s clubs, alumnae groups, seniors, and the like as time goes by. I have an engagement to meet with a book club in Virginia in a few weeks to hear reader reactions and answer questions, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that similar engagements will follow. The first flurry of appearances has come to an end, however.

I have had a couple of less than perfect (and less than profitable) gigs in my tour. Early in the summer I arrived at one distant library to give a talk. It was the first sunny day in a month. As a result, only five people (three of them related to me) came to my well publicized appearance. Even the librarian who had invited me went home to work in his garden instead of staying to hear me!

And one group of seniors was MUCH more interested in eating lunch than in talking or listening to me.

By and large, however, I have had a wonderful time talking about the book and about caregiving to a wide variety of people.

In fact, talking to them has been a privilege. Because my book is about very personal issues—about disease and death and parent/child relationships and caregiving—many of the people in the groups to whom I have spoken have opened up to me about their own personal concerns and experiences.

I have heard stories that have made me laugh … and stories that have made me cry. Last night I heard a story that made me do both.

A woman named Janet at the Sunderland (Massachusetts) Woman’s Club astonished me by recalling not only what I wrote in the cookbook I inscribed to her at a meeting of the club years ago but also what I sang to the group at the end of my previous appearance!

She went on to tell me a lovely story about her mother, the matriarch of a large Italian family. Like Janet (and me!), her mother loved food.

Janet’s mother always said that her personal vision of heaven was an ongoing dinner party at which her own mother was doing the cooking. Around the table were all the people she had loved during her lifetime—her siblings, her friends, her husband. One chair was empty. And when the time came and dinner was ready, she herself would sit in that chair.

Janet described visiting her very ill mother in the hospital. She looked down and whispered very softly, “Mom, I think your mother’s making dessert about now.”

Her mother whispered back, “I hope it’s pudding. And I hope it’s soon.”

And it was.

Who wouldn’t love meeting people like Janet and hearing stories like that one? (And of course she bought a book!)

12 comments on “Heaven Is a Dinner Party

  1. capsyoungguns says:

    So you are still writing this blog.

    • tinkyweisblat says:

      It’s sporadic, but when I have something to say and it doesn’t fit anywhere else, I write here. Someday I may get more organized (or I may not!).

  2. Cara Hochhalter says:

    And, of course, the Charlemont Senior Center thoroughly enjoyed your presentation and was engaged! Thank you for sharing, Tinky!

  3. Margie says:

    I love the story at the end, as well, Tinky. Food and families go together.
    We always had those big family meals with relatives crowded at tables in the dining room, kitchen, and in chairs on the front porch. Not only my siblings and their families, but some of my dad’s. Everyone came because my mother was a good cook, and there was always plenty of food. Plus, always a lot of conversation–I’m from a family of talkers. Nobody ever went away hungry or bored.
    Would like to be around that table today having mother’s purple hull peas and cornbread.
    What would you choose that your mom cooked?

    • tinkyweisblat says:

      Great question, Margie, and I love the sound of your family. In the book I print (more or less) the recipe for her succotash, which always evokes home for me. She was also a GREAT pie baker. I guess I’d have trouble fixing on only one dish!

  4. Jean says:

    What a delightful encounter. Loved Janet’s story!

  5. Doris Matthews says:

    Great to hear from you again Tinky and glad all is going fairly well for you in the talk and book department! PS My Grandmother made the BEST meat pies for our family’s Christmas Eve festivities-YUM!

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