My grandmother’s cupboard was always filled with jars of sprouting lentils. She said that it was important to know how to grow your own food, that when you understood where something came from, you better respected and cherished it. Every Saturday we’d have coffee together. I always laboured over my coffee, careful not to burn it, attempting to get the full flavour out of each bean. Her? Instant. Cold. Tap water coffee. Always. Ever since I was a kid. I’d always give her a hard time about her horrible coffee choices. She’d giggle, her laugh lines becoming more pronounced as the corners of her mouth curled into a smile.
“A little old lady like me doesn’t have time to make coffee.”
After coffee, we’d discuss books. Just finished The Education of Little Tree, just started A Hundred Years of Solitude. Should we go to the second hand store and find some more? She’d describe how reading the piano tuner made her weep, and how reading the latest issue of The Atlantic had her fuming. There’s never enough time to read all the things you’d like, she’d sigh. Don’t bother.
Then her soul would get heavy. The weight of the world. How did we get here? She’d frown. What happened to our sense of community, our environment, for goodness sakes, US!? Had we lost ourselves in the drudgery of modern life? Those aren’t things that you should be worrying about, I’d try and assure her. Enjoy your life, now.
Then she’d tell me that her bones ached, and that she was starting to forget things, misplace things. Who was I going to call? Where did I put my …
She’s far away now. But every time I see lentils, instant coffee or a great book, I know, she’s with me.