If you do not know what a percolator is, I don’t blame you. It seems like a million years ago that it was THE way to make coffee. The “convenient” percolators were electric. That’s not the kind I’m talking about here. I’m talking about the glass (Pyrex) kind that sat on the stove. What I loved most about them was that they made the whole house smell like coffee. And boy, does that thought bring back memories.
My grandmother’s house smelled like coffee and Estee Perfume. The scent of each takes me back… the scent of both (together) is paradise.
Coffee tastes different (I’d argue better) brewed in glass. It also tastes stronger if it’s boiled and boiled, which happened if you left the burner on too long. Which, by the way, people often did. They’d get talking and visiting and before you knew it, someone would yell, “Oh, no! The coffee!” as they ran to the kitchen.
Going to see my grandparents was always a treat for my sister and me. They had a special cupboard with games, paper dolls and books for us. I could tell you about all that I remember… but that would entail a bunch of links… and today is “Easy like Sunday” so I don’t feel like looking a bunch of stuff up. And I’m not gonna. What do you think of that?
I’m bringing this up today to say… sometimes, when I’m feeling depressed, anxious or just blue… I visualize myself in my grandparent’s home. I picture myself in the backseat of the car, pulling up under the big tree in their front yard. The screen door opens. My grandmother (who we called Nana) would be there. My grandfather would be in his coveralls and canvas shoes, working in the garage. He would scoop me up into a bear hug.
Nobody was ever as happy to see me as these two people. I get tears in my eyes just remembering.
When my grandfather died (in 1980) I wondered how my grandmother would survive. He’d done everything for them, including all the driving and balancing their checkbook. No shrinking violet, was she… who learned to drive (in her 60’s!) and lived all the way into her 90’s… mostly-healthy until the last five years or so.
In my visions, I am a small child. I run from the garage after saying hello to my grandfather and go inside the house. I hear the screen door slam behind me. The smell of coffee and perfume lead me by the nose… like a cartoon figure floating on wispy tendrils. I float here and there, noticing everything, from the strawberries on the kitchen wallpaper to the smell of Ivory Soap in the bathroom to the country flowers on a bedspread. My grandmother’s warm, brown eyes sparkle as she offers me cake… and then (with a conspiratorial wink) another slice.
But most of all, she looks at me when I talk, smiles and nods at appropriate times, like she’s actually listening.
When we’re all older, she sits at the kids table… even years later when I have my own children, her great-grandchildren. She looks at them when they talk, smiles and nods at appropriate times, like she’s actually listening to them. They notice this and respond. They adore her.
And that is how a legacy begins… my children loved and were loved by her… and have their own visions of Nana.
I love getting older for many reasons. The one thing I do not like about it is losing people I love. But there are moments I can feel closer again… and thinking about the percolator is one of them… and it brings more smiles and memories with it… as you can see.