As I awaited the arrival of my new, expensive coffee cup, I soon learned that the fall-out of losing my old one on my birthday was not over.
Now, my daughter is a good daughter and she loves me, but she doesn’t always get me. She doesn’t understand the concept of a place for everything, and everything in its place; she doesn’t understand that for me there is a right way to fold towels or make the bed or fold my lingerie for my too-shallow dresser drawers.
She doesn’t understand that for some people there are indeed preferred coffee mugs.
I used to tell her that my favorite mug was my favorite because of how it felt in my hand, and that its dimensions, with coffee, creamer and sweetener combined made the coffee taste just right. All of that was true. But she didn’t ever really buy that—and, she told me, especially since we got our Keurig and the coffee/water combinations are always the same.
She came in the day after the cup broke, shaking her head in confusion. She told me she’d just been with one of her ladies (my daughter is a nurse’s aide, visiting clients in the community). She told this woman about my coffee mug and how upset I was over its demise. She admitted to me she’d let this woman see her true response to the situation—that her mother was just being silly, again.
The lady responded with genuine sorrow for me. When my daughter said to her, “but it’s just a mug”, this lady said, “But you make me my tea in the same mug every day.”
Her response was, “I just use the mug that’s there.”
Her client nodded. “Yes! Exactly. I set out that mug for my afternoon tea. That mug,” my daughter said she pointed to another, different sized one in the cupboard, “is for my morning coffee.”
I didn’t let my daughter see me giggle. I just nodded sagely. But that wasn’t the end of it.
My daughter visited me on Friday, three days after my birthday and brought me a birthday gift of—you guessed it—coffee mugs. They were about the same shape as the one recently lost. Though not of china, they were very pretty and of course I thanked her for her gift. She immediately washed one of them and made me a cup of coffee.
It was an ok cup of coffee—but, as I said, the cup was not made of china.
The day after she’d brought me my gift, she showed up again with her sister—my second daughter. To remind you, Sonja is the daughter of my heart, not of my body. She’d been engaged to my late son, but they parted ways before he died. She is the mother of his two children, and she and my daughter have called each other sister since they met.
Sonja brought me a large gift bag for my birthday. She handed me a card and told me it was the first card I needed to open. I found in the envelope not a birthday card, but a sympathy card. And inside she and my daughter had altered the text to read, “Your loved ‘coffee cup’ was so very dear that it’s so hard to find words to ease your recent loss and bring you peace of mind”.
But the fun didn’t stop there. In the bag she’d brought, there were....cups. LOTS of cups. I am now the proud owner of: A huge mug (bigger than a soup mug) with “Happy Birthday” written upon it; a plastic “Disney Princess” mug. I nodded and told Sonja that since she is the only princess in the family we’ll save it for her use when she comes to supper; a big red mug inscribed with “Stay Calm and Move On”; an 8 ounce mug that declares itself “My Mug”; a “chalk board mug” complete with chalk for writing on it; a plastic travel mug that you can plug into your car’s cigarette holder, to keep the contents warm; and last, and certainly least, a sleeve of disposable paper coffee cups with lids.
As I pulled each item out of the bag I laughed, and thanked them warmly for their thoughtful gifts.
And I felt genuinely grateful, too. They might look at me and make fun of my little idiosyncrasies. But the example of smart-ass I’ve set all these years clearly has not gone to waste.