|The sacred coffee station at my parents' house|
Nothing gets more attention from my mother during her bedtime ritual than making sure that I have prepared the coffee pot for the next morning and set out the cups. She starts worrying about it in the early afternoon and flips up the lid to the basket where the coffee grounds go in as a warning flag to draw my attention to my serious duty. It works exceedingly well. I see the upright lid as a giant exclamation mark and immediately feel the weight of my responsibility to ensure that her next morning will begin properly. It's kind of like being in charge of making sure the sun comes up. Nothing predicts a gloomy day and a grumpy grandma more than a sub par coffee ritual.
Recently, a new twist has been added to the defining morning event. Mom must have cream. She has drunk her coffee black for at least the past forty years. But this past June she was hospitalized three different times for a gastrointestinal bleed so serious that each time she had to have blood transfusions. She has a rare blood type plus lots of antibodies that have to be matched, and so in each case it took a long time to get the blood from the blood bank. It was rather a harrowing experience watching her hemoglobin count fall steadily while the clock ticked off the minutes and hours with no sign of the replacement. Oh, and her veins kept collapsing. There were several times I truly thought she would die. The doctors never did discover where the bleeding was coming from, but the end result of all this was that we started adding cream to her coffee in the off chance that all the acid she was getting in her morning three cups played a contributing factor in the bleeds.
She discovered that she likes cream in her coffee. She likes it a lot. Like to the moon and back. Now, after forty years of imbibing black coffee, SHE MUST HAVE CREAM. And since she is in a wheelchair, the cream must be easily accessible to her in the refrigerator. Since she has made it clear how important cream is to the satisfactoriness of the morning ritual, Emma and I have striven to make sure we keep it on hand and in the right place in the refrigerator.
Except sometimes we fail.
I hurried in one morning to cook breakfast for Mom and Dad and was greeted by Mom with the complaint, "This cream doesn't taste right." Immediately I remembered that I had forgotten to buy cream and that there was none left. I looked at the coffee station where she sets the cream each morning. There stood my dad's $50 bottle of liposomal glutathione, which we keep in the door of the refrigerator.
"No way," I thought.
Then, a doubt crept in. Have I mentioned that she has bad eyesight? I picked up the bottle and showed it to Mom.
"Is this what you used in your coffee?"
"Yes. And it doesn't taste right," she repeated.
"That's because it isn't cream. It's Dad's glutathione," I explained, shaking the bottle to see how much was left. "And I think you just drank about $25 worth."
"Hmph," she answered. "Well, I couldn't find my regular cream, so I figured that had to be it."
Immediately I thought of Starbucks and what a lucrative option they could offer to the health conscious: Glutathione Pumpkin Lattes for $35. Or maybe they could just sell the glutathione by the shot.
At any rate, I realized that my mom could not conceive that we could let the cream supply fail, and so she looked until she "found" it.
It could have been much worse. Thank goodness we don't keep Milk of Magnesia in the refrigerator.