My brother and five sisters and I had had our differences growing up. They festered into deep resentments in the years after we left home. I didn’t realize how deep until Mother died.
After the funeral our grievances boiled over. George was upset that Mom had left Mary the antique black walnut bedroom set: “It’s worth a lot and Mary already has more than the rest of us together.” I got the flatware. Evelyn would inherit the house because she’d lived with Mother. Becky got some antique furniture, Dorothy and Betty some china, and Mary the piano, which she’d bought for Mom. But Dorothy, Mom’s primary caregiver, resented that some of us were absent during Mom’s final days.
Leaving Mom’s house was so sad. My husband, Don, is a Lutheran pastor. His parishioners buried their differences when they came together for communion. Couldn’t a family do the same? If we sat down for a meal, I thought, maybe we could forgive each other and be a family again.
It was five years before we all got together again. The night before, Dorothy said, “If we can get through tomorrow without any major explosions, it will be a miracle.”
At first things felt awkward as we all struggled to behave. But by dinnertime it was better. We laughed as we told stories about our childhood. The memories were so sweet, but there was something missing.
Afterward I took out a loaf of bread. “Since we’ve all been apart so long,” I said, “and since Don’s a pastor, I thought we might share communion.” Everyone agreed. We read Scripture and prayed. Don said, “Do this in remembrance of me.” He broke the bread and gave it to us.
Unbelievably, grievances and hurt dissolved. We hugged and became a family again, together in God’s grace, our missing ingredient.
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