|A Tale from Tamara’s Teancoff Cafe|
“Hello. It’s great to see you. Welcome back to Tamara’s Teancoff Cafe, our fictional hangout for great tea, coffee, fellowship, great snacks and, of course, stories.
“As normal, Tamara has put the resources of the shop at our disposal. Because other customers frequently stop by just to hear our stories, our tab is covered, so quickly give her your orders so her assistant can whip them up for us. She put out a carafe of your favorite coffee on the coffee table and another one with steaming hot water for tea, the tea basket and she made up one of her lemon poppy seed cakes.”
Tamara steps out from behind me to say, “And guys, it’s sweetened with corn meal, pureed carrots and honey. The only real sugar is in the icing”. It’s fast becoming a customer favorite.” She begins to whip her hands on her apron and continues, “I also found two honeydew melons ready to harvest this morning, so they’re sliced up and ready to enjoy. Please don’t leave anything for me to store.”
I added, “It’s going to be hot today, but the morning air is just cold enough, that I went ahead and started a fire for us. So grab your tea or coffee, some cake and melon and a slice of one of the couches and we’ll get right to it.
“Okay, everyone comfy? Today I asked if Tamara herself would lead off with a story she told me last week.”
“Hi everyone and thanks for coming by. Okay, my family lost a senior member last month and I was in Las Colinas, Texas for his funeral and while there I was reminded of a few years ago when he was sick and needed someone to stay with him for a few months, so I moved in with him for one of those months.”
One of the guests, almost tilted her coffee too much and politely interrupted, “Opps, Wait. Tamara, where is Las Colinas?”
“Oh, sorry. I forgot that you all are pretty much scattered around the globe. It sounds much more “border” than it really is. It’s just a bit northeast of Dallas. He lived pretty close to the University of Dallas, where he taught before retiring.
“Most people know of Las Colinas for the the amazing Mustangs sculpture at Carpenter Square.
“Gary was even thrown out of there when he was teaching for IBM and took his class over to view “The Ponies” and got caught helping a student climb up to sit on one for a photo.”
Jennifer snorts a laugh. “Seriously – Gary, you were thrown out of a public sculpture?! That’s hysterical!”
“Yea. . It really happened. Thanks for bringing that up Tamara. You do know that the statue of limitations has expired on that infraction. I was almost 30 years younger, but it sure was one fun afternoon. . .”
“Anyway, when I was there with Grandpa, he was beginning to struggle and had to walk everyday to rebuild his stamina after a surgery. So I walked with him. He lived close to a shopping area and every morning he insisted on stopping by his optometrist’s office to get his glasses cleaned. Every day!
“At home he was always tinkering at his work bench and that part of Texas is almost always hot, so he sweat a lot and his glasses were always filthy. He would visit with the gals behind the counter while one of them, Cindy, cleaned his glasses. She was always very kind and asked how he was doing, so it was always a pleasant visit.
“Grandpa was a very kind soul, always interested in what they were doing with their lives and such and told me that he really appreciated the job Cindy did on his glasses with her cleaning machine. At first, I found this weird because Grandpa was always such a crank if he thought someone was fussing over him. He was so independent and refused help all the time but Cindy and her machine had some sort of free pass. He frequently mentioned that he should ask her about the machine because he would like to own one, but then that would eliminate the need to stop by and visit Cindy and the gals, and he liked visiting them, and Cindy had the machine so it wasn’t really a fuss for her, so maybe, he didn’t really want one – blaa – blaa – blaa. He was really cute with this whole topic. Of course I met Cindy while with him and she really was very sweet, Twice, while I was there, she told him when bringing his glasses back that she also found something to fix for him, like the nose pads or a screw that was working its way loose.
“When Grandpa introduced us, Cindy went into this long update about how much she looked forward to his visits and how it was no bother at all cleaning his glasses each day.
“She leaned in towards me and sorta whispered, “he is the sweetest guy and always brightens our day,” then she turned back to him and gave him a kiss on the cheek.
“Grandpa blushed and Cindy turned back to wink playfully at me. I knew at that moment that there would not be a cleaning machine anytime in his future. This visit was a high light of his mornings. Cindy, was an angel with a machine and Grandpa loved coming to see her. The machine was simply an excuse to come in and practice being charming while being charmed.
“So, each morning, he and I strolled in. Cindy would take his glasses, leaving him half blind to chat with the other gals behind the counter while Cindy and her machine worked her magic. When she came back, they would visit and share quick updates before we left to continue our walk. He almost always commented how amazing that machine was and how clearly he could see again.
“When I went back to help prepare for his funeral, I made it a point to walk down to visit the optometrist office. I wanted to tell Cindy and the other gals how much they meant to Grandpa and how he looked forward to seeing them each day.
“I barely made it through the door when the first one who saw me called out to the others that I had come back and they all rushed out to meet and hug and console me over Grandpa’s death. I could barely get a word in as they gushed about how sweet and loving he had been to them. One gal even told me that he was among her favorite professors back in college.
“When I was finally allowed to talk, I thanked them for being such great friends to him and hoped they could make time in a couple of days to attend his funeral.
“Absolutely,” they answered.
Cindy, was in tears by this time and added, “We read about his passing in the newspaper and noted the time of the funeral. We told the doctor that we would all be gone for those two hours and he knew better than to disagree. His wife is coming back just long enough to cover for us. Doctor knows how precious your Grandfather was to us.
I told them, “Thanks. I so appreciate the joy that you and Cindy’s machine gave him. He spoke of you all often and how much he enjoyed your visits.”
Cindy’s expression unexpectedly changed to polite confusion. “Machine?” she said. “What machine?”
“That’s what Grandpa called your glasses cleaner. He didn’t know the name for it and often said he wanted to ask you about it so he could get one, but that would kill his excuse for his daily visits, so he never did.
“Cindy still looked confused. ‘Did one of you tell him we use a machine?’ she asked the other gals, but they both shook their heads — no’.
“I don’t know where he got that idea,” Cindy said. “I always cleaned his glasses by hand. I just rinsed them with warm water, maybe a drop of dish soap or rubbing alcohol when they were really filthy and wiped them dry with a microfiber cloth. It took me all of a few minutes. I wanted to do a great job just to keep him coming back each day.
“So, by now I’m in tears and said, ‘Grandpa thought that you were just using some machine and, Cindy, he would have stopped coming if he knew you were doing it by hand. He hated, and I do mean ‘HATED’, being ‘fussed’ over. He was too independent for his own good.’
“You have no idea what an angel you and that silly non-existent machine have been to him; all of you actually. When I was staying with him at his home, sometimes arguing with him to allow me to help him with something, he would tell me stuff about you all, what your families were up to and such, just like you were an extension of our family.
“Until that moment, I didn’t realize what an act of love those daily glasses cleanings were for Grandpa and Gary thought you would enjoy hearing about it.
“Now please, everyone refresh your drinks and help me by finishing off the cake and melon.”