Following and Leading with Family and Fish

Monday Morning Musings:

“Where you lead, I will follow

Anywhere that you tell me to

If you need, you need me to be with you

I will follow where you lead.”

–Carole King, “Where You Lead “(Gilmore Girls Theme Song)


“So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

–The final message of dolphins to humans, as they leave Earth before it’s destroyed. Also, the title of the fourth book of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams.


“I sustain myself with the love of family.”

–Maya Angelou (Tweet, on 23 May 2013)


After a long, long week,

a very long week

when we are in shock over the leader

many of our fellow citizens want to follow,

my younger daughter suggests we watch The Gilmore Girls*

while we eat Chinese food and chocolate,

so we sit, comfy in PJs and sweatshirts

while my husband goes for the Chinese food

(General Tso’s chicken for him,

the mock version for us)–

followed by chocolate.

Of course.


No one can eat like the Gilmore Girls,

but we try to get in the spirit,

choosing an episode from Season Two,

we hear this:

Paris: “That’s crazy. People would rather vote for a moronic twink who they liked over someone who could actually do the job?”

“We can’t get away from it,” sighs my daughter.

“Oy with the poodles already,” I reply.


The next day we go to my sister’s house.

meant to be a combination birthday-victory celebration

with a fish tray and bagels.


It is instead, a much needed gathering of family,

the love of family to sustain us.


Son-in-law has never eaten lox–or any of the fish on the platter,

he is forced to try them all.

(“It’s my heritage,” his wife says, though she is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fish.)

He thinks the whitefish is too oily,

the lox too salty,

but the kippered salmon is tolerable—with lots of onion.

Daughter says, “He would have gotten along well with Grandpop.”

We remember my dad’s love of onions–

onion sandwiches

onion and sardine sandwiches

onion and sardine sandwiches on onion rolls

( with extra onions).

Did I mention he liked onions?

My father liked food,

and gatherings,

and gathering over food.

We sustain ourselves with family and family memories.


My mother wants coffee,

demands coffee

I want it now she says

with my meal.

She would fit right in with the Gilmore Girls.


You don’t argue with a 94-year old woman who wants coffee.

My sister gets her some coffee.

Remembering how we are sustained by family, love, and annoyance.


We discuss the current political situation,

daughter worried about how her students will react.

(She has not seen them since the election.)

I say I think she is a good leader,

and hope they will follow her lead.

Her husband, a veteran, deployed three times,

and not happy with the elected leader,

talks to my sister about getting involved in politics.

Sustained, and upheld by family.


My mom says she’s lived through many scary times.

I say I remember being terrified during the Cold War–

duck and cover drills and the Cuban Missile Crisis–

“But there were more sane people in control then,” my niece says.


Oy with the poodles already.

Sustained by love of family.


My sister and niece say, if we’re going to discuss this

we need to drink–and chocolate.


drink, drink, drink


In truth, we really do not drink,

and then my niece accidentally knocks coffee onto my mom’s lap.

We’re clumsy, but lovable.

And sustained by the love of family.


Time for dessert!


The cake is placed strategically in front of my daughter, so she can pick at it,

and “clean up” the icing.

(Love of family and food sustains us.)


My niece, who lives in a divided household

(in a red part of the state)

says she has needed this gathering,

though we’re not celebrating the election,

we are celebrating family.

We’re sustained by family—

and food.


We move to other subjects—

Thanksgiving (and food).

I have safely delivered the squirrel mold

(encased in bubble wrap)

to my niece,

the Thanksgiving cranberry sauce tradition

can continue.

We talk of social media

and kids,

and gender identity

and sex education,

a teenage boy taking lotion,

“I don’t understand—why does he want lotion?”

asks my mom.

(She’s so innocent.)

We hear cheers from the next room,

my sister-in-law and husband are watching football.

It is time to go.

We leave, sustained by family,

full from all the food we’ve eaten,

carrying packages of fish and bagels,

bits of love,

like life, delicious and a bit smelly,

So long, and thanks for all the fish,

and all the memories, too.

And though wishing my other daughter was also with us,

I am sustained by love of family,

as we head off into the darkness

where a super moon is rising.

We need light in the darkness

and love always.





*Gilmore Girls was a TV series about single mother Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory. The series opened as Rory was in high school and ended when she graduated from Yale. In between, mother and daughter had many adventures, drank millions of cups of coffee, and eat enormous amounts of take-out food in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. A four-episode follow-up will be on Netflix in about two weeks.

30 thoughts on “Following and Leading with Family and Fish

  1. The interweaving of food and family is so refreshing this Monday morning. I had Chinese food twice while Cliff was out of town – and chocolate. Jenna provided more chocolate by baking chocolate-chip cookies.

    Your family photos warm the cockles of my heart this cool November morning in Jacksonville. I also like the architectural detail in the rooms I see here – maybe yours.

    Yes, the sun still rises in the sky. Maybe this new leader will confound us (again!) and tone down his frightful rhetoric and moderate his actions. One can only hope.

  2. Hmmm, I’m surprised you weren’t sustained more by family and food….maybe there wasn’t enough chocolate involved.
    It’s lovely to see families can still come together in this way to talk and laugh and recharge.
    Lovely pictures.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

  3. How wonderful to have such a gathering. 🙂 I think that if anything will sustain us, it will be love and maybe the realization that in some ways, we are all family. I am going to have to put the Gilmore Girls on my Netflix queue. You are the third or fourth person to mention it recently. I’ve never seen it.

    • Thank you, Robin. It was good to get together.

      I hope you enjoy the Gilmore Girls. I think it’s 7 seasons, and then the new 4 episodes coming up. The dialogue is very fast and witty, and the mother-daughter bond is special. And there are all sorts of quirky town characters.

  4. Monday Evening Musings:

    Today was Chinese food for lunch with chocolate for dessert, in BrynMawr, with three of my longtime and retired friends from “the Company”-one male, two female. We were seated at the table as though we were two couples-may as well have been, we’ve known each other that long. We get together four times a year, usually around each of our birthdays. Today happened to coincide with, shall we say, some “unsettling” domestic developments of recent vintage.

    It was a good gathering. We spent the first 15 minutes talking about the “current events”. It was a mixed political group, split evenly between “Republicans” and “Democrats”, but no one very far away from the great fence marking “moderation”; Beitbart or OccupyAmerica would not have felt at home. None of the four voted for the winner, but only two voted for Mrs. Clinton. An odd group nowadays, for sure! The ladies were properly horrified at the persona and demeanor of Mr. Trump, and gave voice to the physical revulsion they felt on election night. The men, although equally repulsed, were confined by manly qualities of stoicism, and brought out the fact that the world had not ended yet, and in fact there were maybe one or two things that gave some small hope for optimism. All grudgingly agreed that it is what it is.

    Then, as if by magic, the Hot&Sour Soup arrived with the SpringRolls! The atmosphere immediately changed. Politics evaporated, carried away in the vapors of sesame and chili oil! “Meaningful” things between old friends were discussed! Why won’t my grandson do his homework? Why won’t Priscilla’s husband get some expert advice on building his landscape wall, which recently collapsed? What to say to Ralph’s son, an electrical engineer who is unhappy that the electrician he hired for his house makes a lot more than he does? Is Hye-Ja’s daughter overextending herself by keeping both a dog and a free loading significant other? Who’s cooking what for whom on Thanksgiving? Etc., etc……..Weighty topics, worthy of two hours of discussion-and, we solved nothing (!) but we had a good time-and ate an obscene amount of YangMing delicacies!

    Dessert came, ChocolateMousse and MudPie. The world had still not ended. The domestic issues remained unsolved. But, we made sure to put the date on our calendars for the next birthday, for more Chinese food, chocolate, and good friends. It was a good gathering; we’re sustained by good friends—and food.

  5. I’m laughing as I read Laurie’s comment, above. Your post here was just wonderful. We all struggle to keep on keeping on, despite our fears and anger and confusion about what just happened in our country. Food, Family, Love, Traditions, Coffee and Chocolate ‘ground’ us for sure. My dad was like yours – the more sardines and liverwurst, the better. UGH, but so much fun watching him enjoy. Oh, and cheap baloney. He couldn’t get enough of cheap baloney. That was his ‘comfort’ food. My mom, at 92 – is like yours. “Give me the cup of coffee —- NOW.” Fun to compare our families, our traditions and memories, and to realize that we all are, really, one big family. Let’s hope our new elected officials realize that.

    • Thank you, Pam. I share your wish about our new elected officials. I wish more people could see that we are all much the same. We will see.
      That is funny about your dad, and your mom, too. 🙂

  6. I think I’ve also gained a kilo on reading this Merril 🙂 … and a dribble on my t-shirt. Lovely post, heart-warming. There is NOTHING to beat a family gathering where there is food, coffee and chocolate!

  7. Just so you know: my Felicia went off to college the same year Rory did! I cried buckets and we all agree, my Mom made it to 88 and didn’t like drinking water, instead it was always coffee, black and no sugar. (I take off after my Dad who liked flavors, cream and sugar!)
    Being a single mom over many years, the kids make jokes about all of my “choices” in men. Lorelei was not too much more wild than I was, although I married 3 times. At least I made them “legit,” laugh out loud! 😀

  8. Oh, I should have said, “so far Mom has made it to 88 and still makes a face when given her meds with water by the visiting nurse!”
    She will always choose at bedtime, Sangria in a juice glass, too.
    My Dad liked his Christmas stocking full of peanuts in the shell, a couple of herring or sardines in sauces in cans. 🙂 He also loved garlic and onions.

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