My mom passed away recently. She is on my mind every day. How does that relate to a tea blog? It’s an important part of my personal tea story. It was the end of a very long adventure the two of us lived together. She was born into a family of eight siblings to young immigrants who somehow managed to raise nine children with only her father working outside the home and bringing in an income.
She left my grandparents’ home and went directly into marriage without working outside the home herself. She was a tiny little thing and I often felt more like her protector than she mine. She had no “worldliness” about her. She was as innocent as a young girl her entire life, with no bumps or bruises of major consequence, and no outside connections other than church friends, family and neighbors. Dad made sure nothing rattled her world. Pity anyone who tried.
Mom and I could not have been more different. We looked nothing alike and we thought nothing alike – yet we were always extremely close. She could not understand my affinity for business and adventure anymore than I could understand hers – with home and hearth and children being all that was needed for her complete worldly fulfillment.
Over the years, however, she really enjoyed watching what I got into out in the big ol’ world, in a series of business adventures, and none more than the tea years – her last years. We grew up on instant iced tea in a jar, and she had the occasional box of stale tea bags somewhere in the back of the cupboard which no one drank unless they were sick with a cold.
When I was putting together the sourcing and recipes for my first tea business, begun with a partner, she was one of my most enthusiastic and honest ‘taste testers’. She was absolutely amazed at loose leaf tea and how different it tasted from the instant and bags she had experienced. She especially enjoyed the variety of specialty iced teas and sipping my “concoctions.” She had her very first latte made right on my tea-stained kitchen-cum-laboratory counter.
When we opened our first store, my husband drove her up to the mountain resort to see it for herself. She had been so excited to go, but came back saying she didn’t like my partner’s husband and didn’t trust him. Surprising, because Mom was not one to say anything judgmental about people. Soon afterwards we got the letter that they wanted me out of the business. They kept the money they had asked me to put in, and the recipes I’d worked so long and hard on, but they didn’t need me anymore. Mom never said, “I told you so.” But, as usual, she had a sense of things before many others.
She was again one of my taste-testers when I started over from scratch, coming up with newer – and better – recipes than before. She loved to tell people about her daughter’s latest adventure in business. She encouraged me when my husband and I opened our own store, and loved to visit and talk with customers. This was about the time we began to notice that Mom was having some problems and might have challenges living alone as she had for many years since Dad had passed away.
About nine months after we opened that store, my mom, indeed, was not able to live alone and, in the last two years, required full-time nursing care.
I feel like I have lost my best girlfriend, and I am so happy I was able to share the ‘tea adventure’ with my tiny, guileless, little Mom and make her a part of the journey.