Father’s Day may fall on the third Sunday of June but, for one St. Marys father and grandfather, the most special day of the week — every week — is often Wednesday.
That’s because Wednesdays is when Murray Mitchell hosts his grandchildren — and sometimes their friends — for a weekly home-made supper around his distinctly 1960s-style Elizabeth Street kitchen table.
“I’ve been doing it for 14 years,” explained Mitchell. And he would know the exact date. Because he took over the Wednesday evening cooking duties after the death of his wife (and the kids’ grandmother), Grace.
Murray’s son Darrin, sitting in for last week’s supper along with his children Regan and Sullivan (Darrin’s other daughter, Cassidy, couldn’t be there because she was working; their cousins Emma and Josh Mitchell were at Emma’s graduation), smiles as Murray continues with the story.
Grace’s weekly meals had grown into a very special time between grandchildren and grandparents. So, in her honour, Murray knew he wanted to keep up the tradition.
“I couldn’t even boil water when I started. The first week I ordered pizza. Then we had Kentucky Fried Chicken. After that, I decided, ‘I’d better learn to cook.’
“So I got to work, and I learned.”
He says he picked up his skills “by trial and error,” but Regan and Sully don’t seem to have any recollections of any “errors.” They eagerly dig into a traditional meat-and-potatoes style supper — some cooked on the stove in the kitchen; some on a grill Murray has set up on the basement.
“It’s always four vegetables, plus potatoes, plus meat.”
A well-fed cat, which was supposed to have only stayed at Murray’s on a temporary basis when Darrin, his wife Shelley and the kids relocated to a new home in 2011, winds its way between Sully’s feet. “We’ve had as many as eight (guests). But we always use the same table. Somehow we make them all fit.”
At the centre of the table: A simple floral arrangement.
“To remember the ones that can’t be here,” Murray says.
He doesn’t clarify whether he means the grandchildren who can’t be here due to work, sports, or other commitments . . . or if he means Grace. But somehow, as the kids enjoy their lovingly-cooked supper, it seems obvious that it’s a little bit of both.