Mom was always proper. I was trained from a young age to have full table manners. Any elbow on the table was commented upon. Napkins were placed on laps. And table settings were perfect; the knife, fork, and spoon were correctly placed in our house for every meal. At one point in high school, a friend of mine was over eating with us and she was delighted to learn how to set the table correctly. My mother taught her. My response to that was vague amazement that my friend had lived to 17 years old without having that skill down. I am pretty sure that I learned about 10 years earlier. Mom’s training ensured that I never had to wonder which fork to use in a restaurant.
Tonight, I had a friend over for dinner, a friend that Mom gets on well with so we were all going to eat together. I asked Mom to set the table, a task that just a few months ago would have been well within her functioning range. I walked over after she had been working at it for a while to make sure that we were all set.
What I found was a table covered with a jumble of silverware — many more pieces than were needed. It was all in a pile in the middle of the table. I straightened it out into the settings for each person and returned about eight spoons to the drawer. It was such a visual of just how chaotic Mom’s inner world must be. At this point, to simply count the correct four spoons for dinner is too confusing of a task.
Happily though, in spite of the table setting challenges, she can still feel the happiness of good company and humor. And since I don’t feel terribly strongly about table setting perfection, it was a lovely dinner.