As she pushed from her forehead a curtain of frizzy bangs — coaxed into prominence by tendrils of steam emanating from the pot of homemade tomato sauce and meatballs over which she had labored all afternoon — she heard a small voice: sweet but insistent.
“But, Mama, I want hot dogs for dinner!”
In that moment, her consciousness leapt from the fragrant and disheveled kitchen to the dinner table — not of this hour, but of many years hence. A table no longer littered with toys and crayon drawings, but host instead to a young man of whom this small boy was only the promise. Gone were the dimples, the piping voice, the disheveled curls, replaced by a man of stature, his voice resonant, but with the lingering ebullience of the boy she knew so well. Perhaps he was home from college, tarrying in the launch of his inevitably brilliant destiny for a long-anticipated reunion with his parents.
As they congregated at the table, he beamed at his mother, announcing: “I’ve been looking forward to a homemade meal for a change.” And his mother could not help but notice how he dwarfed the chair which once seemed too big for him. Where had her tiny boy gone? And so quickly?
So it was, with both a tremble and a thrill, that she set before him the evening’s repast. The plate was larger than of yore — for his appetite had grown, too — and heaped with the fruits of her admittedly truncated labors. “Dig in, sweetheart,” she said. And if his face seemed a trifle disappointed, it did not disturb the serene smile of a woman who, having enjoyed rising late, lingered over her lunch, and spent the afternoon savoring a good book, closing it just in time to prepare dinner.
“I thought about making spaghetti, but I remembered how much you always liked these,” she said. If he wanted to protest, he wisely smothered the impulse and reached for another hot dog.
With that, her mind returned to the pungent kitchen. And she smiled and was content.