Write Again … Life, love, courage … and coffee

Published 12:38 am Tuesday, September 6, 2011

My guest columnist today is our younger daughter, Mary Bart. She lives in West Palm Beach, Fla. She is a very capable, competent and caring young woman. This is what she wrote:

My obsession with coffee started at a young age. I believe I had my first sip of coffee at around age 5. Yeah. I know. Whose parents allow their child to have coffee at that age, right? Well, my parents did. Actually, they didn’t know. It was my Grandmother “Mom,” as we called her.

There wasn’t a day that she didn’t have coffee brewing in her home in North Carolina. And not the coffeemakers like we have today, but the old percolator style for the serious coffee drinkers. We had coffee in the morning, lunch, dinner and, of course, after dinner. Mom loved her coffee and I loved Mom.

Our coffee times were special. It was our moment to be together. We would play cards, watch the hummingbirds outside and enjoy our time. I loved Mom so much. She always made me feel special, and who doesn’t love that? Coffee was our connection. She was a hardcore coffee drinker who drank it black. Me? Well, I like my heavy cream and some sugar in it. Still, to this day, I must have cream in my coffee. I don’t think I’ll ever be as “tough” a coffee drinker as she was.

She also liked her Carlton cigarettes while sipping her coffee. I was mesmerized by cigarettes since my parents were adamantly opposed to smoking. And, yes, there were occasions that I would sneak a puff or two, but, not to worry, I was around 10 then. I mean I was basically an adult. (I never became a smoker.)

Coffee brought us together and created memories that will last a lifetime. If she had only lived to see how coffee has changed our world. I don’t think she would frequent the Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts, but she would make her old-fashioned coffee at home. Coffee was meant to be consumed at home in those days, and she would want to keep it that way.

I wish I could share another cup of coffee with Mom. She passed away when I was in high school. I remember that day — vividly. I took the phone call from my mother, who was at the hospital with her. I had to tell my father, her son, the bad news. It was a hard moment for me. She had battled breast cancer for several decades. Many of her doctors could never explain why she lived as long as she did, but she always said it was because of her granddaughters. I believe it, too. My sister and I gave Mom a new outlook on life. She spoiled us, and we thought the world of her. I am grateful to have had her in my life. She was an amazing woman who taught me a lot about life, love and courage.

And coffee.