The other morning while I was getting my first cup of coffee ready, I thought of my mom. I don’t know why. I put the non fat milk in my cup and took an eager sip and immediately shuddered from the bitterness. After I added my non calorie sweetener to my cup and relaxed into it, I remembered how my mother would drink her percolated coffee black. And rarely would she take a moment to enjoy it.
I smiled as I thought of terms I had heard that described her. “Salt of the Earth”, was one term that her former boss used to describe her and a statement he still makes to me whenever I see him.
Born in the late 1920’s she grew up in he days of the Great Depression. I didn’t know much about her and how she grew up. I know, as many like her, she never really got over those days of the Depression. It was not uncommon for her to cut paper napkins in half or make you wear clothes two or three times before you washed them. She hung our clothes out on the line to dry and our house was always spotless.
She didn’t work outside the home until my teen years but when she did, it was no office job she took. She cleaned rooms in a local motel and later worked in the laundry room. Not a promotion in my opinion as I would often stop to see her and the heat in that little room in the summer months was stifling.
She didn’t think she would live to be very old or she didn’t want to, I was never sure which. She died five and half years ago at 75 years of age, the last 10 of which she struggled with health issues and dementia. I realized as her time here ended how little I really knew about her or maybe how little she wanted me to know. She didn’t speak a lot about the bad things in her past but did tell the happy stories over and over again. She said you can’t take back hurtful things you say and you always had the feeling there was a story that came with that but what it was I was never told. She was hard on me. And I’m sure I repaid the favor over and over again in my teen years. I’m sorry was not in her vocabulary but she loved the people in her life dearly. Especially my dad. She didn’t marry until her early 30’s and my father was the undisputable love of her life. She and my father had a child pass when she was only two and half. I think she felt like there was very little you could count on in life other than dying.
But every morning, you could count on that deep black cup of coffee that was as bitter as the days of the Depression. Thinking back now, I wonder if she really liked it that way or if she was used to a punishing way of life for so many years that she embraced the biting flavor. I will never know. Even my dad took a little sugar in his. I wonder what that says about him? That will have to wait for another day. But for just a moment, I sure did miss you, Mom.