Editor's note: The following is an excerpt from the book "Life Lessons from Mothers of Faith," published by Covenant Communications.
The kitchen table was the spiritual center of my mother’s home, and when our family surrounded it, we drew from our mother’s faith. My mother, Mary Cannon Mix, did not preach to us. She simply lived her life so we could be taught. She did not demand our presence. Her warmth was an invitation. Her service to our family was not a burden — it was the air she breathed. She was and is not perfect. She is real.
How do I know this? I observed her while I was growing up, and I still observe her today in her 92nd year. Much of the time with my mother was spent within the walls of our family home. It is a humble home, but to her it is a castle, because it can compare to the sacredness of the temple. Each member of our family feels it when we walk through the front door. The Spirit draws us to her, and then we gather at the kitchen table.
As a child, it was at the kitchen table that we ate and digested not only food but also conversation. The events of our day became her focus.
It was around the kitchen table that we would kneel on the linoleum floor for family prayer. It was at the kitchen table that we would read the scriptures. It was on the kitchen table that the bottled peaches, pears, pickles and tomatoes would rest before they were taken to the fruit room downstairs. Mom would tediously peel, pack and steam the fruit, while she sometimes dripped with sweat herself.
It was on the kitchen table that the fresh sheets and towels, just taken from the clothesline, were piled before they were folded and put away. It was around the kitchen table that we girls would sit while Mom would give us a perm or roll our hair in curlers while we talked and shared intimacies about our lives. Every prom dress began on the kitchen table. The fabric was laid out, and the pattern was pinned on. Sometimes the process went late into the night.
It was at the kitchen table that Mom would prepare the lessons for her current church calling. Her scriptures and books lay piled open before her as she marked the thoughts she wanted to remember. That same table, each school night, became “homework central” for all of us children.
It was at the kitchen table that we carved pumpkins, dyed Easter eggs and served Christmas dinner — and there were always dimes and nickels wrapped in foil within the birthday cakes, hidden for the lucky guests.
It was at the kitchen table that Mom would sit to pay the bills. From the way she would hold her head in her hands, one could tell the financial strain of that month. With never a word of complaint, she would close the checkbook and return to her duties of the day.
It was at the kitchen table that, as a child, I let a bad word slip; I was immediately marched to the bathroom, where my mouth was washed out with soap.
It was at the kitchen table that neighbors would come to visit and relatives would gather. Daily conversations would consistently occur and laughter could be heard throughout the whole house.
Yet, it was also at the kitchen table that life-changing conversations would occur, like the conversation with the hospice nurse when Dad was dying from cancer. Then the voices were tender and quiet, yet Mom's faith was resilient. The table provided a physical support.
Now, years later, she spends much of her day sitting near the window at the kitchen table. When the front door opens and friends and family come in, they all head for the kitchen table. It has been a popular place for grandchildren to bring their dates, knowing full well that Grandma would entertain them.
“Now you come in here and let’s just see what we can find to eat,” she always says as she opens the refrigerator.
Rob, a grandson, still remembers bringing his date to Grandma’s home. She was in such a hurry to answer the door that she forgot to button her skirt, and while she was searching through the cupboards, her skirt fell to the floor. There she was, standing in her slip. Grandma laughed the hardest that day.
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It is said in the Bible Dictionary that “the Israelites were forbidden to build an altar except in the place where God should choose to put his name.” The kitchen table in our home is such a place. Although the table is but a physical object, it is the Spirit in my mother’s heart that makes it sacred.
For years, it was there, at the kitchen table, that I felt the love of the Savior through the life and the faith of my mother.
Click here for more excerpts from "Life Lessons from Mothers of Faith."
Sister Rosemary M. Wixom is the Primary general president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.