Wednesday, April 13, 2016


He claimed it was love at first sight. It might have been the caffeine.

Nothing characterized our life together quite like coffee. We dated over steaming cups, placed on Formica tabletops in out of the way cafes. Two cups, and maybe one piece of pie to share, purchased hours of time to talk and all the coffee we could stomach. One conspirator of love, a waitress at the Olde North Pancake House, always let us linger for the hour after she locked the doors.

Our conversations went deeper than the bottomless pots of unlimited refills. Tendrils of steam may have blurred our eyes, but they did not keep us from seeing clearly into each other’s hearts. The intoxicating aroma, invigorating taste and comforting warmth formed the brew into which we stirred the entwining of our lives.

A Farberware percolator topped our registry list. Our honeymoon morning began with a silver carafe, delivered on a linen covered cart. Every morning after, our marriage awoke to eight cups of brew, the first cup brought to me in bed. Over a fresh pot in the afternoon, we discussed our day. We made the final one to temper the sweetness of dessert.

“No more caffeine,” the dietician explained in an effort to protect George’s heart. She actually yelled at me when I brought a latte to his hospital bed—although I yelled back, “It’s decaf.” Making nearly simultaneous cups—decaf for him and regular for me—was so integral to our existence, we added a Keurig coffee maker to our collection that includes a ten-cup drip pot for every day, a four cup pot for the camper, a thirty cup pot for parties and a stove top model in the event of an electric failure.

It should be no surprise that I drink too much coffee these days. I do it for my heart. Now that I know I’m prone to find my solace in a cup, I can appreciate the no-alcohol pledge of the college we attended. If our lives had been stirred together in steins or goblets in smoky bars, this story would have a sorrier ending.


Saturday, April 9, 2016


I had a moment’s worth of ‘young again.’ It smiled awkwardly from the formal script of a ‘plus one’ wedding invitation. I grinned sheepishly in return.

I am not sure why being addressed as ‘Bettejean and guest’ amuses me. This is, after all, a tangible reminder I am no longer half of a taken-for-granted pair. My name is now a stand alone—a stark and solitary figure floundering in a landscape of dedicated twos. It could (and maybe should) make me feel the pain of being old and left alone, but in a peculiar way, it doesn’t.

I associate ‘plus one’ with young adults, although my recent sense of ‘young again’ is not a throwback to personal experience. ‘Bettejean and guest’ is uncharted territory, an alien landscape yet to be explored.

My name has always tagged along behind the ‘and,’ never once preceded it. I was eighteen when my name detached itself from the second line of invitations to my parents in order to round out the line ‘addressed to George and….’

Through years of events and parties, I always knew who was the better half. With him gone, I do not take new invitations for granted. I never thought until this one came along I might be invited simply for myself. And whomever I bring along. On the one hand, leaving the choice of guest to my judgment seems a little risky. On the other, I do have a proven track record of choosing only the best.

I am so glad my daughter will be home in time for this event. I hope she is willing to be my plus one.