Mother’s Tea

Distance from the manic environs of New York City leaves me so enervated I’m not sure that I can be “daily” any more.

Still the New Yorker in me persists.  (After all, I only left Saturday morning—the New Yorker in me has got to be stronger than half a week!)

Still, it’s amazing to me how quick routine/structure/discipline gives way.  (Though I’m not sure I can really call blogging a discipline!)

What fades I guess are the constructs you have built up as parts of yourself.  I don’t think it is Florida that rubs them away so much as entry into the parental home.

Your parents genuinely don’t notice these constructs.  (My parents, for example, persist on offering me chicken salad, even though I’ve been vegetarian for thirty-five years.  I mention that to them, they say, yes, but that it’s really low-calorie.)

When I used to come home from college, the first thing I would do would be to go to our kitchen counter, pour out a bowl of cereal and stand there eating it.  It seems to me that it was usually Special K, possibly Grapenuts. (Although we did have cereal at college back then, it was always cornflakes, stale, and served in large glass jars.)

Eating the Special K, or possibly Grapenuts, was a way of transitioning back to childhood.  I’d usually have at least a bowl and a half.

I don’t do that now.  But then, the main cereal my parents have here are laden with fiber and artificial sugar.

Also, when I come to my parents’ house now, it is important that I remain an adult.  There are things to be done, helped with, organized.  (No counter bowls of cereal for you!)

They are certainly still as caring, still as parental.  As I type this blog, my mom ghosts out in nightdress, to ask me whether I wouldn’t like some decaf tea.

I don’t particularly want any decaf tea.  ( I actually kind of dislike decaf tea;  it usually tastes just one remove from dishwater to me.)  So, I say, well, thanks, but you don’t need to bother, but she says she already has the bag—she is of the generation that reuses tea bags.   I say well, fine then.

She gently brings over the cup of tea in a nice cup, nice saucer, holding a small carton of milk from their Meals on Wheels delivery earlier in the day.  She does not use milk, but she remembers that  I usually do.

“Would you like milk?”

“Sure.”

She pours it in.

And then, feeling truly sad that I am leaving, I think, she says I can just put it down on the freshly varnished coffee table next to me.

Whoa, I think to myself, knowing how she feels about freshly varnished tables.  So, despite what she says,  I  look for something I could put the saucer on, something to serve as coaster.  Unfortunately all the books on the coffee table seem to be photo albums.

“Oh here’s something,” she says suddenly, picking up a placemat from another table.  “They did just redo that table,” she goes on, as she puts the placemat down on my coffee table, “so I guess it’s just as well to take care of it.”

She steps gently back to the kitchen where I hear her moving about.  Then, after a moment, there is a sudden beep, which I realize is the microwave announcing the water she has heated for her own cup, the cup she is making after mine, the cup which in fact will be the second use of the tea bag.

I take a quick sip of the tea which for decaf really tastes quite good, the microwaved water almost scaldingly hot.   I do not use a microwave at all, and certainly not for heating water;   still, that hot hot tea tastes really very good just now.

But I remember how, as a child, anything from my mother’s hands tasted good.

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