I would play this exact game with my grandmother for hours whenever my family would visit. Some of the most vivid memories I have of her I was maybe 9 or 10 and those moments had a great effect on me and my identity.
The smell of the house is still strong and familiar, immediately I feel an overwhelming feeling of comfort and love. I can hear the fresh ground coffee dripping into the pot sitting on the burner keeping it always hot, kind of a powerful symbol of the constant encouragement and support given to me by my grandmother. That was no doubt the second pot of the morning.
She poured the coffee into a white porcelain cup lined with chipped gold mimicking the undertones of the chestnut brown of the coffee. Just looking at it reminded me of what safety and warmth feels like. She always used cream and when she plopped it into the coffee I would imagine a kind of a planned nuclear explosion of white, visually diminishing the bitterness of the nights spent away from her.
She would place the porcelain cup onto a white napkin sitting on this matte finished white table cloth. I would notice the shuffling of the cards mirrored the crackle and release of steam marking the start of the coffee brewing in the background.
She would ask about school intermittently slipping in affirmations like ‘You’ve always been good at that’ or ‘It makes me proud that you never give up when things get hard’ she would make me feel that, like the strong flavor of coffee, I too am tenacious.
She would never stop humming to herself, weaving throughout and in between every kind word, every smile and giggle. This makes me believe that she too struggles with pulsing, whirling thoughts, unable to just be still. The smoothness and warmth of a hot cup of coffee turned off the speeding engine of her mind allowing her to be still.
The house is brimming with young bodies creating the typical conflict that at the time I was used to but I did not concern myself with anything outside of her.
She would say, “Quick! Here’s your chance!” as courageous as the coffee is bold, she would sneak me sips from her cup. I can still feel the steam floating into my face as if it were sending my worries away with it.
Something she said that I will never forget is “You are my granddaughter, and coursing blood, a tree of offspring, or a last name, will never change that.”
Her cup would slowly empty, as I would often glance up at Davinci’s ‘The Last Supper.’ It was a puzzle she had glued and mounted next to oversized wooden utensils and a calendar displaying our then pope.
Time and time again she would refill the cup displaying the always unique brown ring on the napkin. Looking back, it represents to me an everlasting and eternal connection to my grandmother.
The refilling would stop though the month of December when I was 15, but that brown ring exists always as I refill my own cup with love, acceptance and coffee.