Table for Two

When you’re ten years old and you’ve just lost your dad, you soften like a sponge submerged in water for the first time. For me, experiencing a major loss at a young age was disorienting, and I was susceptible to false senses of security and stability. I was seeking a tidy explanation where there was none. I wanted to put a band-aid on a wound that needed stitches. People would tell me that I was the “man of the house” now, and I thought that meant that if I just pretended to be tough and emotionless, to not cry, to go about my business, everything would be OK. So I didn’t learn how to ask for help. That would not have been a very masculine thing to do.

At some point a year or so after my father’s passing, my uncle Larry asked me to go out to dinner. He was a voracious eater, and so we went to some old-time steakhouse or BBQ joint, ate heartily, and made conversation. For four years, we had dinner nearly every Wednesday night. Not once did my uncle ever indicate why he was taking me to dinner, and I never asked. He never asked me about my dad or how I was coping, he was just there.

It took me years to realize the impact of dinners with Larry on my life. He became a stable male presence, he was consistent, and he never asked for anything in return. At a time when I had no idea what I needed, let alone how to ask for it, Larry was there anyway.

By Alex Meadow