Breakfast with Grandmama

By Mary Bok | May 19, 2010

It was my turn to carry Grandmama’s breakfast tray up to her room.  And I knew I could do it, without spilling anything or dropping a dish or a cup on the back stairs. Lil had the tray all ready for me when I came back down to the kitchen after she sent me upstairs to wash my face and comb my hair – again.  The little teapot jiggled in its saucer when I took hold of the tray.  I could hear the spoon chattering against the side of the empty teacup.

Grandmama’s soft boiled egg sat in the egg cup, prim as could be, and the three slices of crisp toast stood in the little toast rack, awaiting the old lady’s pleasure. Lil had not forgotten the little jar of jam that began every day.

So I took charge of that tray, holding it firmly in both hands, as I carried it up the back stairwell, which rose up to the second floor on the far side of the busy kitchen. I walked carefully, one step at a time, until I reached the bottom of the stairs. And I began the ascent, up, up, up, up, up, until I got to the landing, when the stairway curved around the corner of the house. Then I proceeded in a new direction, up, up, up, up, until I could see the long hall that extended the full length of the house.

Grandmama’s bedroom was half way down the hall, but Bessie always kept a small hanging vase of flowers on the bedroom door, so that any one of us kids could identify Grandmama’s room — to be sure we knew when we had arrived.

So, lucky for me, there was a chair leaning up against the wall, just outside Grandmama’s door. I quickly put the tray down on the chair so I’d have both hands free to open the tall door, taking care not to dislodge the vase of flowers that hung on the door above my head. I felt the doorknob unlatch itself, the heavy weight of the wood slide forward into the large, stately room. Everything was so quiet. I wondered if I was in the right place. My slippers made no sound against the waxy dark floor boards. All I could hear was the spoon in the teacup saucer, tinkling like a wind chime in my heart. I guess like Grandmama’s heart too because when I looked up, I saw that she was looking straight at me over the rim of her glasses; her bright twinkling eyes were like a pair of black stars shining out into our morning together. Her thin, bony hands clutched the lightweight woolen blanket up close to her chest. She hitched herself forward a little in her bed so she could adjust the pillows at her back. And when everything was in order, she adjusted her spectacles, leaned back against the pillows and smiled warmly in my direction. 

“Well good morning, my darling child. I am so happy to see you this morning and look at this! What have you got for me this morning? Mmm mmm, it smells divine. Come, come a little closer. Let’s see if we can get the tray all the way up to your Grandmama’s lap so she can eat her lovely breakfast, and before it’s too cold.”

I moved closer and lifted the clattering tray as high as I could reach until I felt her grasp hold of it and draw it farther, and farther, and farther away from me. When she had it firmly in place, she nodded to me and smiled. “Well done, my dear. Very well done. Now can you find a place to sit, my dear? Come. Come. Climb up on the bed and make a comfy place for yourself. Would you like to have a piece of this lovely toast Lil has sent up? How about a bit of jam on it? And here’s a napkin for you. And look at this. Lil has even sent up a little teacup for you to share my pot of tea. Would you like it with milk or a little sugar?”

And there I was, curled up on Grandmama’s bed, with a pillow at my back, and a little second breakfast before me. And my darling Grandmama to share this moment. The morning sun poured in every window and filled the room with joy and warmth.

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