“Let’s drive to a restaurant and eat breakfast before you and your family drive home.” Our group was rather large; however, a quaint restaurant was found with seating capacity to accommodate all of us.
Orders for breakfast items were recorded by our kind waitress with a genuine smile. Each time she completed a page of breakfast orders, it was apparent this waitress was the server our group needed. Thankful to receive good service with good food, my appreciation increased while observing her servant attitude.
With confidence she asked, “Do you need anything else?” In an adjacent seat, I heard a request for Miller’s gravy. It seemed plausible that I’d missed the listing for Miller’s gravy on the breakfast menu.
“Who wants the ketchup?” The casual question of four words from our waitress captured my attention. A cousin pointed toward the opposite side of the table. “Over there.” After a pause and an extended glance, I saw Miller’s gravy; it was ketchup. The visual image of ketchup covering an entire plate of hash brown potatoes and scrambled eggs is etched in my memory.
“Why?” The one word question slipped through my lips. Gentle laughter surrounded me. In unison the group proclaimed, “Heinz ketchup. It’s a family tradition at breakfast, over everything.”
That gravy conversation reminded me of the gravy Mom had oftentimes prepared for our family. Her version was a delight to smell and to eat. Even though a bottle of ketchup was a staple item in our refrigerator, we had never eaten Miller’s gravy at breakfast.
An African proverb reads, “If you close your eyes, you can see far.” When closing my eyes now, it is easy to remember the morning our extended family ate breakfast together. A substantial amount of ketchup consumption at breakfast precipitated a vivid memory from several years ago with a lot of new giggles.
Years have elapsed since we enjoyed that visit with family. The memory was and is a picture for a post card. It was the last time I enjoyed a 4th of July vacation with mom. Conversations, video cameras capturing laughter, a volleyball game or two, and the gift of time enjoyed in the picturesque mountains of West Virginia are now cherished memories.
Reflecting on that visit, I understand now the value of listening and observation. It is essential to embrace the myriad gifts of life with gratitude.
Although I may not eat Miller’s gravy at breakfast, I appreciate its value as well as how to order it. The distance between our family members is merely a noun rather than an obstacle.
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