My Aunt Connie lost her husband of fifty-seven years this past week; my cousins lost their father, their grandfather, their great-grandfather. Many in Old Town, Maine, lost their loyal friend. When I think of Ed Sirois, I think of a gardener and a storyteller, a devoted family man blessed with a healthy balance of humility and humor. Back when my brother, sister, and I were kids, weekend visits to Old Town were about afternoons spent around the table, eating the profoundly good food made by Aunt Connie and Memere, playing cribbage, and listening to gifted storytellers. Yesterday, as we gathered after Uncle Ed's funeral back in Aunt Connie's kitchen, my cousin Peter told stories about the old days, and I almost felt like they were there, the ones we've lost, Memere & Pepere, Aunt Annette, my father, and now Uncle Ed. After we left, my mum remarked that we would have had a different conversation if we'd been in the living room, and she was right. It was in the kitchen, around the table's circle, with chairs and stools pulled up, and watermelon that Pam had brought passed from hand to hand, that we talked about the old days.
As stories are swapped around a table, talk, like food, becomes a sort of nourishment in itself. As Aunt Connie says, we all have memories, some good some bad, but we share them. And this, I believe, is what binds us. This is what gives us strength.