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