I am one of those lucky souls who knew a couple of my great-grandmothers. There was Great-Grandma Leona, (though everyone referred to her by her last name, Church) of whom I have vague recollections at her home for Sunday dinners. I remember the smell of the roast as we walked in her house and a sweet kindness that emanated from her.
And then there was Great-Grandma Olive. Her home smelled of cigarettes, and she used curse words like "Damn," and "Hell." Shocking stuff in my world. I loved her dearly. I especially loved her because she would tell me on a regular basis that I was a terrible baby, mischevious and difficult. This was in direct opposition to what my mom told me about my baby years, but I liked Grandma Olive's version better. I liked the idea that I was capable of being wicked.
I was named after another Great Grandma, Jenny, whom I never met. My mom and I have discussed several times my fortune in being named after that particular one. I could have been a Leona or an Olive, or (gasp) a Beryl. Even worse, if I had cruel parents, I could have been an Olive Beryl.
But I digress.
I often credit my Aunt Jane with introducing me to the world of tea, and it's true. She was the first to take me to a tea house and give me the full afternoon tea experience with tea sandwiches and scones and all the fanfare. But it was Grandma Olive who first served me tea regularly, as though I was a grown-up. Usually bagged Lipton, but sometimes when it was too hot outside, she'd mix up some instant iced tea that had some peach flavoring in it. Either way she served it, she let me put as many ice cubes in my mug or glass as I wanted.
I love trying new teas. I take great pleasure in tasting some of the highest quality, amazingly limited teas from exclusive gardens. But I try to never forget that the best tea moments are those that are shared. And in those great moments, the type or quality of tea is not what matters. It's simply the fact of it creating a moment to be together, to talk, to enjoy.
On today, what would have been Grandma Olive's birthday, I'm enjoying the view of my olive tree outside my window, and I'm sipping a very special tea out of one of her china tea cups that I inherited upon her passing.
And I'm once again grateful that I'm not an Olive Beryl. Happy birthday, Grandma Olive.