Along the way Sarah Smiley, a
syndicated newspaper columnist writing "I'm Just Saying," realized the
life lessons she and her boys were learning and the incredible impact
those meals had on their guests, she recorded their experiences in a
book "Dinner with the Smileys." Unfortunately it took the death of an
elderly neighbor in a nursing home who died the week before they
planned to visit, to bring home the message about not postponing a good
deed. That missed opportunity was turned around when the boys insisted
they visit anyway and a man named Frank invited them to have dinner with
him, since his beloved wife of 60 years had Alzheimer's and didn't know
him any more. Needless to say, the meal was a little soggy with tears.
J. Julia's Booksellers, 768 Boston Post Road, Madison commemorated
Sarah's visit to town recently with, you guessed it, an old-fashioned
potluck supper. While Sarah served turkey lasagna (Garfield the cat
would have approved) 90% of the time, it wasn't the menu that impressed
the 250 strangers who crossed their doorstep.
Along the way,
those strangers became friends and the town became a community. The
boys learned manners and how to socialize (we won't mention the time the
minister who was dining that night found two of the boys wrestling on
the kitchen floor and promptly sent them to their room). One of their
favorites (although the middle son Owen doesn't want to hurt anyone's
feelings by naming a favorite) was a U.S. Marshal who came because
people kept telling her to invite him.
The guests from the
Governor of Maine John Baldacci to the local fireman to an Olympic Gold
Medalist all left an impression, There are a lot of lonely people who
would like a dinner invitation (even if it's a Senator who gets a paper
towel instead of a cloth napkin) and Sarah Smiley and sons Ford, 14,
Owen, 12, and Lindell, 8, encourage you to invite one or three over.
You'll all be the richer and wiser for it.
The oven mitt is on
the other hand these days as Dustin is now home with the boys, while
Sarah is on her book tour. Dustin is trying to figure out what to make
for the company the boys are inviting to fill mom's empty seat at the