Sundays At Home

I have to be honest with you guys, I’m not taking this whole “my dad died” thing well.  It felt terrible last week and it feels worse today so to deal with my grief I’m going to just keep telling stories.  I’ve added a category called “Betheboy Dad Stories” to keep track of these as I post them.  Click the “Betheboy Dad Stories” link at the bottom of this post to read more.

Sundays At Home

If you ever found yourself at a the red brick house that my great-grandmother owned on Long Island you wouldn’t leave  hungry, especially not on a Sunday.  On Sundays the sauce went on the stove early, probably around 6 a.m. and when I arrived with my father, brother and sister around 11 a.m. the house was filled with something more than just the aroma of the sauce; it was filled with the feeling of comfort, of warmth and the knowledge that wherever we may have lived the other six days of the week this was our home for the day.  This scene had been repeating itself since long before I was born, since the late 50’s when my great grandparents children began having kids of their own.  By the time I was born Sunday dinner served about 25 people and it continued to grow until my great-grandmother passed away when I was 19 years old.  In all those years people came and went, people passed away and new additions joined the family but no matter what, there was the sauce simmering on the stove on a Sunday to make sure that no one went home hungry.

After my great-grandmother died there was no longer a central meeting place for us all and the family splintered off into their own smaller groups, each left to develop their own traditions for Sunday.  For my father this meant of course making the sauce, while he was making it for fewer people the years of watching his grandmother taught him well.  By the time I woke up on Sunday morning the sauce was already simmering on the stove even though it would be hours before anyone sat down to eat.  On most Sunday mornings there would be a movie on in the background in the a.m. something like Patton, JFK or anything starring John Wayne and while the movie played he stirred the sauce as it simmered and filled the house with that same feeling we grew up with.

Today I live in Los Angeles, miles and miles from the places I grew up in but like my father before me I watched what happened on Sundays and every few weeks I repeat the ritual.  The fact that I adopted the sauce ritual made my father very happy.  On the old version of this blog he even commented that he got a little teary eyed when he read about it.  About three weeks before my father passed away I was making sauce for pasta on a Sunday.  My dad had emailed me that morning before the Jets played the Patriots to predict a Jets win and when the game ended and the Jets had won I called him.  We chatted for a few minutes about the game before the conversation turned to the kitchen:

It’s too bad you’re not here, I have the sauce on in the kitchen.

– With sausage or meatballs?


-Nice, you better get back to it.

Heading to the kitchen now, I love you. I’ll talk to you soon.

-Love you too, be good.

I hung up and went back to the kitchen to check on the sauce. I was unaware that it would be the last time my father and I would talk but as far as goodbyes go it feels okay to me .



Filed under Betheboy Dad Stories

7 responses to “Sundays At Home

  1. I was really sorry to read about the loss of your father and the events that transpired after.

    The whole sauce thing reminds me of my own life. The thing with the sauce was something that carried on through my mom’s family her parents did it, she did it, my uncles did it, and I try to carry it on. (Making sauce for 1-2 people lasts uh… forever.)

    My point is… Your experience reminded me that there is just something warming and enjoyable about it. It makes me think of my grandparents, who are no longer with us, when I do cook it and no matter where I am in the country it makes it feel like home.

    Thanks for making me think about it.

  2. Biological family, blood relatives, were never strong ties for me. All the traditions and rituals I had growing up have either died off or are so ingrained with fighting and drinking that it’s hard to separate what actually is tradition and what just feels that way because of common elements (see again drinking and fighting). Reading your post makes me happy. Why? Because it’s nice to know that there are families with traditions so simple and heart warming. I have grown and developed a family of my own, friends that I call my loved ones. Some of us have started traditions, some of us join other traditions already in existence, but I have with them what you had with your father and his grandmother. I hope some day to have that with a family I both create and share blood with, a husband and children. But even if I never do, I’m happy to see that you had it, that you still have it. Thank you.

  3. Corrie

    This is so moving. It’s one of the things that I have missed the most since moving away from home…the rituals. Even the memories of the most simple ones evoke similar feelings of warmth, love and home, for me. I was so sad to think that my own children wouldn’t have those same memories. Your post, though, gives me hope that my efforts to revive some of those rituals, even though on a much smaller scale, are worthwhile. :-)
    Oh…and I have to say, that as far as last words to each other go…those between you and your father were wonderful. Seems to me that, no matter what is said, there are always things you wished you could have said, too. There is never enough time to truly express how much we love those that are closest to us.
    Still keeping you guys in my thoughts and prayers…

  4. oh, will. thank you for sharing this story. as good a goodbye as there could be, when you don’t know it’s coming.

    we’re thinking about you. xoxo.

  5. Cousin of the boy

    This one is so right on!! walking into grandmas house as a child, well there was no better feeling!!

  6. aliastaken

    My heart continues to break for you.

  7. holy crap, crying again. how do you do it will? i’m so glad your dad admired your writing as much as the rest of us. i wonder if he struggled to put things into words and somehow you are giving him that ability.


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