Coffee talk and grandmothers

“Don’t talk to me before my first up of coffee.”

My grandmother used to wake up at 4:30 am so she could ease into the day, sipping her first cup of coffee uninterrupted. Most of the time nana came across as a patient, kind, generous woman but god help the fool who came between her and her morning caffeine fix.

Nana lived with us for most of my childhood. Her room was on the other side of the house, close to the kitchen and each morning, between 4:30-5:30 am, she would brew her first pot of the day. She always made at least two pots (being a coffee family, we strictly abide the 30-minutes-to-stale rule) and she always used one of her vintage, 6oz, white porcelain cups.

As a small kid, I would try to spy on my mother and grandmother during their early morning chat. My grandmother couldn’t stand bright lights in the morning so the kitchen was always dimly lit, offering me the perfect opportunity to hover unseen. Sometimes they were laughing, sometimes serious, occasionally they’d be talking about me, and if I got really lucky, I would would find them wrapping birthday or christmas gifts. Eventually, sometime during my early middle school years, my spying skills deteriorated and I opted to simply take a seat at the table. 
I loved those morning conversations, especially when it was just my grandmother and I, sitting at the kitchen table, sipping our coffee in the pre-dawn light. It was the one time she would retreat into the past. The roasting company has been in our family for over 160 years and I think, when she tasted the first cup, her whole history flooded in. She would tell me about the Depression, about how she wanted to be a flight attendant so she could see the world, about how she met my grandfather and their elopement, about driving the forklift around the roasting plant (rare for a woman in the 50s), about my mother as a kid, me. As years past, she often told me the same stories. I don’t know if she told them because she liked to remember them or because she was afraid I would forget those small, memorable moments that made up her life. In an effort to seal the bond of secrecy, I told her some things too during our coffee conversations. Some of them were truths (like the first time I kissed a boy) and some where just details I needed to figure out before sunrise (like how to get my mother to believe I was sick enough to stay home from school so nana and I could go shopping)
Over the years, our morning coffee conversations shifted to an afternoon coffee break. She was living in a condo near the university I attended my Freshman year of college and twice a week, I’d drive to her place for lunch. Ever the perfectionist, she liked to have everything ready when I entered, so we created a habit where I would call her when I hit a certain spot in the drive and she would say “okay, honey, I’m putting the coffee on now! See you soon.”.   
My grandmother passed away a few years ago and I still remember all of her stories and I still drink my first cup of the morning out of a white porcelain mug and I still think of her every time I invite someone to catch-up over coffee. It’s my way of saying, let’s stop for a few minutes to sit and share because I want to know you too.

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