Fifteen Minute Friday: Tea
Fifteen Minute Fridays are stories based on writing prompts that I penned in the 15 minutes afforded to me at my weekly writer’s group. They are unedited (except spelling) and are based on one word. The fifteen minutes includes thinking about your idea, writing it down, and a quick edit if you have time. If you would like to play along, get your pen an paper ready.
This week’s prompt…Tea. You have 15 minutes–go!
The Meaning of Tea
When I was a teenager I learned to like tea. Milk and plenty of sugar was how I took it. I had a burnt orange plastic mug that had a handle and a lid with the words, “Hands Off” emblazoned on the outside. That mug is still at my father’s home, the interior stained black to within an inch of the top with the tea that was its frequent guest.
I was raised in a home with my single father and younger brother. My dad was my champion, my teacher, and my de facto mother. He also made me a tea first thing every morning. I suppose it was a defence mechanism, of sorts, as he knew better than to talk to his teenage girl before she had a nice warm cup of tea coursing through her veins. He was exactly the same.
On a particularly angsty teen morning, my father made my tea and kept the spoon resting inside so I could evenly disperse the sugar throughout to sweeten my day. In rare form, I yelled at my father. “I can do that myself, you know.” Of course, he knew I was capable of doing it myself. Later I realized that the tea wasn’t about the tea at all. It was a shared connection when many are lost as your children get older. That tea was something he could still do for me to show his love that I wouldn’t recoil from. And, yet, I instructed him, I didn’t want the tea, and maybe the love and connection that went with it that day.
I have very few regrets growing up in our house. I took on the matriarch role when my father wasn’t there. I made dinner, ensured my brother got to his homework and the dogs were fed. I enjoyed evenings with the two boys of the house watching Murphy Brown and Newhart. But that damn cup of tea nagged me. My father never made a cup of tea for my morning after that and the next morning it saddened me. My stubborn streak would not have me apologize to restore the normal balance of our morning rituals. Instead, it would forever change.
I began making my father’s tea about a year later. I guess that is how long it takes for a teenager apology. I warmed the cup, submersed the bag, added just a splash of milk and a yellow packet of sugar twin. I’m sure he understood that I was sorry. Sorry it took so long to try and reestablish our connection. Now as a parent though, I understand, he never even knew it was lost.
When we are done our 15-minute writing exercise, we share our stories with everyone in the room. If you played along, please share. If you read my words, please be kind.
Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash