Once, a number of years ago, I dated a man who liked a television series called “The Big Bang Theory.” In it, there is a character with zero social skills who was VERY careful–thanks to his mother’s upbringing–that any time someone was upset he would immediately offer them a hot beverage. As he told one of the other characters: “…social protocol states when a friend is upset, you offer them a hot beverage, such as tea.” It was one of the few things that I actually appreciated from the show, because it truly is an extremely helpful rule to remember.

A few weeks ago, I was woken early in the morning by a phone call from my father, letting me know that my maternal grandmother had passed away sometime in the previous night. It wasn’t completely unexpected, but he mentioned that he thought my mother would like my company. I admit, it took me a few hours to get myself together. My grandmother and I hadn’t been close, but there is such a finality to things such as this. While getting ready to go, I packed three important things to take with me: a vanilla-flavored black tea, tea strainer, and the teapot that had belonged to my paternal grandmother.

When I arrived at my parents’, my mother was on the phone with a focused look on her face and my father was sitting by exuding an air of helplessness. I saw that my mother had a half-full mug of coffee next to her, and know that she only drinks one cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I immediately went into the kitchen and put on the kettle, and in short order placed a mug of sweetened and creamed vanilla black tea in my mother’s hands.

I took a total of two days off from work and I did all the driving, took my parents out to eat, researched, typed legal documents, and made many a pot of tea.

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