A Last Supper Shared at the Olive Garden

The Podcasting Store
3 min readDec 21, 2023

by Drew Holmes

I paid the check and pushed my overstuffed body away from the Olive Garden table. In the parking lot we said our goodbyes to mom and dad, knowing ahead of us were four days of driving back to Colorado, and made our way to the hotel to get a few hours sleep.

That was the last time I saw my mother before she died.

It was summer break, and my family was on an extra-long road trip. The plan: drive to Kentucky to see Jamie’s family, then on to Massachusetts to visit mine. This was all sandwiched around my birthday, a trip to see the Red Sox at Fenway Park, and dozens of stops for Geocaching.

The Massachusetts leg of the trip was stressful from the start. My grandmother’s health was failing, and dad warned me the doctors said it was likely days, not weeks, before she was no longer with us. We were there at the house when the ambulance came to transport her to hospice. I made sure she had her banket for the trip and Sam, age 5, was beside me waving to his sleeping great-grandmother softly whispering “Goodbye, Grandma Duprey.” The next day, my birthday, she was gone.

We were leaving for Colorado just two days later and there was so much to do. We helped mom with the death announcement and helped support her through the loss of her mother. Though her health had been waning for years, the speed with which she passed was a surprise. How can anyone of any age prepare for the loss of their mother, the person who has always been there?

The night before we left, mom and dad wanted one more dinner out. Olive Garden was near the hotel and the menu was robust enough for everyone to find something, so we met them there.

The sweltering summer was much hotter than usual, and I was rarely hungry. It was already well past the boys’ bedtime and Timothy would insist on swimming in the hotel pool before bed. Knowing that the next time I would likely see my parents would be November at the earliest, it was worth the overstuffed belly and late night to see them for a few hours more.

As always, mom hemmed and hawed over the menu, never quite confident in what to get. And as always, she made everyone else order first, making her selection at the last possible moment. Bread sticks, salad, and entrees came and went, and we hugged our goodbyes in the parking lot before heading back to the hotel.

Two months later I would return to Massachusetts, back at the same kitchen table, again helping write an obituary. But this time it was my mother’s. Her health, declining steadily for decades, had finally reached the tipping point. We had known for years that eventually she would go to the hospital and not return home. That day had finally come.

Four people can claim to have raised me, my father and mother, and mom’s mother and father. Little did I know I would say goodbye to two of them in the same week.

Take the extra trip, even if it’s inconvenient. Make an extra visit, even if there isn’t time. Eat the extra meal, even if you’re not hungry. Jamie, Timothy, and Sam are the greatest blessings I could have ever hoped for in my life and I was always proud to share them with my mother. Making the effort to be together as a family one last time at the dinner table was the best way we could have said goodbye.

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