the significance of Luby’s


I never imagined that the Texas based cafeteria called Luby’s would figure into two significant stories of my life.

The first story took place just after the end of my marriage of 24 years.  It was Thanksgiving and after all the stress of the breakup…and the move to a new apartment with my daughter, I decided NOT to cook.  My parents suggested we order the turkey and trimmings from Luby’s.

“No!” I protested, “You know your granddaughter doesn’t like Luby’s!”  She was a high school senior then, and Luby’s was not her “cool” place to “hang.”  She wanted nothing to do with it.

“Let’s don’t tell her,” offered my mother, “Your dad can leave early to pick up the order…she’ll still be asleep, and we’ll hide the Luby’s styrofoam ice chests.  She’ll never know!”

I pondered the possibility.  I really couldn’t afford the Thanksgiving dinner from the Junior League or from an upscale restaurant.  Finally, I said, “Okay, we’ll just say we’re having it catered!”

On Thanksgiving morning my stepdad, always the early riser, headed to Luby’s bright and early.  He came back with two styrofoam chests with the Luby’s logo on either side.

“Is she awake yet?” he wanted to know.

“No!” I whispered.  “Hurry, hide everything in the laundry room.”  I glanced at my mom who was getting out the silver, china, and crystal.  “We’ll put everything on the nice serving dishes, and then you can throw away the styrofoam.”

We did a good job!

We sat around the table, after the feast, just the four of us, missing my son, who had chosen to spend the holiday with his father.

My daughter complimented the meal, “You know, Mom, this food was better than you make!”  Oh!  The compliments of teenagers!

My mother, stepdad, and I looked at each other, and we burst out laughing.  We couldn’t hold it in!

“It’s from Luby’s!”  I squealed, holding my sides from laughing so hard.

My daughter was not amused.  But the story has become part of the family lore.

 The second one is not funny.

It happened two days ago on Saturday when my parents were running errands at noon.  They had plans to be at our house for dinner, so my dad suggested they eat something out for lunch.  They have three places they like to eat.  Number one is Luby’s, number two…the local pizza joint…and number three…the local hamburger joint, which they refer to as “the country club.”

My mother looked at him, confused by his suggestion.  (She has recently been diagnosed with Lewy Body Disease, and she is deteriorating fast.  In fact, they are moving this week five houses down from us, so that I can assist in her care.)

“What is Luby’s?” she asked, looking puzzled.

My dad could hardly drive, he was so crushed.

They arrived at our house as usual.  I tell them to be there at 5:30; they arrive at 3:15.  Why do old people do that?

Anyway, I was already in a teary mood.  Occasionally, I make myself watch The Hallmark channel on television, just so I can have a good cry, and I was on my third movie.

He took me aside in the kitchen and told me the Luby’s story, which obviously made me cry harder.  I returned to the living room where my mother sat in her favorite chair.

“Mom, do you think I’ll hurt your legs if I sit in your lap?”

“Oh, no!” she answered, “You never let me hold you!  Please, sit in my lap.”

One of our ongoing mother/daughter wars has been that she never seemed to want me to grow up.  I was her only child, and it took me until I was 40 years old to get her to stop treating me like one.

I know it looked ridiculous…middle aged woman sitting on her 76 year old mother’s lap.  But I don’t care about how ridiculous I looked.

It made her happy.  “Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve held my baby?” she cried.

“Mom, you may forget other things, but I will never let you forget how much I love you!”

I think I won’t cook next weekend, when they move in down the street. 

I think I’ll get their “welcome to your new home” catered from Luby’s!

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2 comments on “the significance of Luby’s”

  1. Oh, this was good. You made me cry! I am sure many others will cry along with us. I get the watching the movies on Hallmark…today I was watching movies on LifeTime they had series on that was many classic love stories. And they made me cry……they are still on, off for dinner and when I clean up they will be on again ….and I am sure the tears will keep coming. My mom is 90 years old and she lives with me, she had a few strokes so her memory is here and there also. Glad to hear your parents are going to be close by. My daughter is 12 years old and two days ago she did a power point to let my husband and I that she is now a vegetarian. A power point…what will they do next. I guess I am lucky it wasn’t a text message.
    Oh and your story about you sitting on your mom’s lap reminds me so much of the children’s book called “Love you Forever” I still have it and my children still love when I read and sing this one to them. Not as often…..they are growing up.

    Thanks for sharing your stories and your heart.


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