Caffeine Crazies

Grandma Kc wrote this on October 4th, 2014 28 Replies

This is a special memory from my own childhood.

I don’t know how my mother got up in time for work when we lived in Michigan. I do know that when we moved to California it became my responsibility to get up, make her coffee, bring it to her and wake her up. I would sit there while she drank that mug and then go back to the kitchen to make her a second one while she got up and started to get ready. I couldn’t just hand her that first cup and leave as she was likely to set it down and go back to sleep.

This coffee ritual started when I was 13 years old. I really don’t remember when it ended.

I do remember her brown mug. For years, she drank her coffee out of a very large brown ceramic mug. Fortunately, she liked instant but it had to be made exactly right. It needed to be strong but more importantly it needed to be the perfect temperature for guzzling. It had to be just hot enough to wake her up but cool enough that she could drink the cup straight down. I became an expert at getting that coffee the perfect temperature. She wasn’t the kind of mother to hand out praise very often so getting the coffee right was a big deal.

mom in front of the nursing school on graduation day

I was also in charge of making sure my mom’s nursing uniform was clean and pressed. This was back when nurses wore a white uniform, white stockings, white nursing shoes (I was also in charge of making sure they were polished) and their white nurse’s cap. I was never allowed to press her cap but I remember standing there and watching her as she carefully pressed the black ribbon onto a new cap and then carefully folded it. That black stripe was very much a status symbol. It meant she was an RN and she really was proud of that.

mom's nursing school graduation picture with her stripe on her cap

I don’t know why I was in charge of her uniforms but I do understand why I was in charge of the coffee. Both my mom and sister could sleep through anything! That never changed! I remember Judy sleeping through the first earthquake we ever experienced. It happened the first month we lived in California. We were still staying with my aunt and uncle which meant Judy and I shared the very uncomfortable sofa sleeper. I was wide-awake and terrified! She was sleeping.

As a grownup, Judy could set two alarm clocks and sleep through them both. Like my mother, she needed her caffeine when she woke up so she came up with the most disgusting concoction. She would pour herself a large Pepsi over ice and top it with a spoonful of instant coffee! She drank it with a straw because it would bubble up out of the glass like some strange science experiment and she had to drink it fast so it wouldn’t overflow onto the table. It was really was disgusting!

Judy in the early seventies

Is it any wonder I never learned to like coffee until I was 20 and working nights at the phone company?

28 thoughts on “Caffeine Crazies

  1. Launna

    Kc, I never learned to like coffee, to this day I still don’t drink it… :)

    I can’t believe it was your responsibility to make the coffee and to wake your mother up. I am up for a couple of hours before my daughter gets up, she does not have to do anything for me… I think it is good to have chores but sometimes parents can take it too far. What your sister drank does sound really gross.. :)

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      You are certainly better off not drinking coffee. It really isn’t good for you.

      You are a much better mom than mine was. I agree children should have chores and Amara has been responsible for making her own lunch for the last 2 years. That is reasonable but her Mom makes her own coffee and does everything else!

      Reply
  2. Rhonda

    I can’t believe that you had that responsibility at 13, wow. It’s amazing what we can endure when we grow up in dysfunctional homes. I know that my upbringing has made me a stronger and wiser person. Oh, and I’m a big coffee drinker. Having a cup as we speak, lol.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      You and I have a lot in common. I am sometimes amazed that I turned out as well as I did. You’re right, it made us stronger. It certainly didn’t have the same impact on my sister. She and my mom were a lot in a lot of ways.

      Reply
  3. sarah christian

    What a great story in your memories. As a coffee drinker, I know what it is like to have that coffee the right strength and the right temperature. I often miss when fixing coffee for one of my children. I tend to drink coffee like your mom, but now I drink it with coffee mate French Vanilla, so it is not like sipping too hot coffee. I really like the taste of coffee and cream. My mom used to drink hers with whipping cream in it, and I remember the first time she made me some iced coffee with it…..ohhhh, it was so good. And the uniform….my mom was an RN also, but I never had charge of her uniform….you had a lot laid upon you when you were growing up! My vote is that you turned out so beautifully, and are such a sweet heart and a very giving person. And we have never met in person! Thanks for the share.
    .

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      You know as much as I have learned to really love coffee over the years I have never liked iced coffee. I like iced tea but not iced coffee. Unlike my mother I like my coffee extra hot! I take cream when dining out only because it helps the flavor. At home I just like it black — and brewed. I still think instant coffee is disgusting! Although some of those General Mills International Coffees are yummy!

      Reply
  4. Judy @ NewEnglandGardenAndThread

    I had a fair amount of responsibility growing up, but you beat me by a mile. That was a load but as always you carried it off. My Mom drank instant coffee and thoroughly enjoyed it. I’m a Peet’s coffee bean, grind it fresh for every pot, and enjoy it as soon as the brewer stops kind of coffee person. I have morning and afternoon coffee every day and enjoy every moment. :-) When we lose electricity, the first thing I question is how we are going to have our coffee and that is why we have a generator. LOL

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Jenna had a job with Diedrich Coffee for a couple of years and I used to be able to buy fresh roasted beans. That was some yummy coffee. Now we just drink Folger’s decaffeinated. It isn’t bad but I must say since giving up caffeine coffee just isn’t quite the same!

      Reply
  5. Joyce

    Along with your other commenters I am shocked by the amount of responsibility laid on you as a young teenager. I suppose your mother felt she was grooming you for a self reliant adulthood. But still….!
    My mother expected nothing of us domestically, but I kept my own room clean. When I married and left home there were times I wished I knew how to clean well and to cook. I would have benefited from that kind of experience.
    I always enjoy seeing your pictures and admiring how cute you are! Your mom was a pretty lady and made a very efficient looking nurse. RNs today just wear scrubs. That probably makes the day go lots easier, although the “old fashioned” look was certainly striking!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      My mother didn’t really have good intentions, that was not in her nature. BUT! Like you said, I could cook and clean and was very self sufficient when I moved out. I did teach those skills to Jenna but she didn’t learn to cook out of necessity!

      Reply
  6. Joy @ Yesterfood

    In psychology they talk about “Parentified Children” and you were definitely one of ‘em! Isn’t it funny that your mom had such a responsible job, but you were the responsible one at home?

    What would I do without my coffee? Don’t even want to think about it. :) I’ll skip the Pepsi, though! ;)

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Many times I felt like I parented my mother and my sister and it wasn’t always fun. While she wasn’t good at being a mother she was a great nurse and she loved it.

      As for the coffee, we recently gave up caffeine — THAT was not fun! But I do feel so much better for it!

      Reply
  7. Olga

    One of my friends has a daughter who is near to impossible to wake up in the morning, but it never occurred to me that a parent could have that affliction. I am still naive sometimes! Pepsi and instant coffee sounds really, really bad. What a way to have to get yourself started.

    Reply
  8. KImberly

    I rotate three favorite mugs. I not only make it strong, I pour the first mug out if I have an option so it’s extra strong. Wow, I need to go back and try parenthood again. Funny, how many mornings I stood at the bottom of the stairs and yelled up said stairs, “Rise and shine little biscuits!” Now I wake the grands the same way. I will get up at anytime to have a few minutes to drink my coffee before facing much light or conversation. My mom worked in a factory and I do remember worrying about her when it was horribly hot. I’d fix lemonade and fill up ice cube trays with it, so when they melted it would still taste good. She was always gone before I even got up in the mornings. Foaming Pepsi/Coffee is crazy scary.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Even now that I have switched to decaf I really do need to sit and have my morning coffee! Hmmm this may be part of why I really don’t like soda! I was scarred by my sister’s Pepsi concoction!

      Reply
  9. Lisa @ Grandma's Briefs

    That’s a pretty heavy load to put on a 13-year-old. I would have never been able to get the uniforms right. I’ve never been good at ironing (and still rarely do it).

    I bet you make one heckuva cup of coffee now, though! Perhaps one day we’ll share a cup, at your place or mine!

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I love the smell of coffee when you open the canister and there is nothing worse than the smell of burnt coffee!

      Reply
  10. Sandy

    Wow. That was a lot of responsibility for a 13 year old. I can see making coffee for a parent .. but making sure they got out of bed? You were just as amazing back then as you are now!

    Coffee & Pepsi??? That’s just crazy talk!

    Because we live so far away from each other, there haven’t been many times that we’ve been able to sit down and have coffee together. I think that’s one of my favorite memories of our visits .. having that first cup of morning coffee and waking up together. I love that when we have our phone chats we share a cup of coffee across the miles!! Almost as good as being together.

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      I agree completely! Coffee (even decaf) and a conversation with my baby sister makes any morning great! Love you honey!

      Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      My sister had some weird ideas about food! I remember when she decided to be a vegetarian for a year. She lived on Instant Breakfast and cigarettes! Now that’s healthy!

      Reply
  11. Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma

    I guess your mom relied on you because she couldn’t afford to risk being late for work, so in a strange way she was being responsible. But kids shouldn’t have to parent their parents. I understand her problem, though, because I have a hard time waking up. Just this morning I slept through an hour of my radio alarm. Only woke up when it turned itself off. I was late-ish for breakfast with my husband and the grands, but they’re never too surprised when that happens. (And I love coffee, but it does bad things to my heart. Sigh.)

    Reply
    1. Grandma Kc Post author

      Grampy and I gave up coffee in early July of this year for health reasons. It really isn’t good for your heart or your blood pressure. He was brave and just quit cold turkey! I did take a couple of weeks to just wean myself off. The world was probably glad I did as I would have been very grumpy. But I drank 2 cups in the morning for the 1st week and one cup the next week and it hasn’t been to bad. I still enjoy drinking decaf in the AM but we are saving lots of money on all the coffee we aren’t drinking in the afternoons and evenings. WE had a serious (coffee) drinking issue. We both feel so much better for it!

      Reply

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