An Elixir of Life

Mary Ellen - Woonsocket, Rhode Island
Entered on June 27, 2007

Age Group: 65+
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“Coffee will turn the bottoms of your feet black,“ my mother warned me, as she sipped her own hot cup of coffee one day. But I didn’t listen. I’ve come to believe that a good cup of coffee is a cure for what ails us humans, an elixir of life, so to speak. Well, that’s what my husband calls it, and he may be on to something. Coffee houses are springing up all over the place. I can count at least six within a two-mile radius of my home in Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

In the 1960’s, I was a young student nurse in London and coffee houses were very popular. My friends and I, none of us with much money, would spend our free time in the cafes which offered entertainment with our coffee. One evening, we went into a coffee house in Knightsbridge, and that’s where I first met Roger Whittaker, before his ship set sail. You know, the one which ‘lies rigged and ready in the harbor’? Then again, it was in a basement cafe in Trafalgar Square that I first heard the Irish folk music which inspired me to buy a ten dollar guitar and learn to strum. Great experiences for the price of a cup of coffee.

When I first met this young man who would become my life partner, we would stay up all night, drinking cup after cup; talking about everything that meant anything to us both; matching our ideas and our lives. While I studied to pass my nursing exams, it was good, strong coffee that kept me going through the midnight hours. Then, after the children came along, it was sitting at a kitchen table over a steaming cup with my best friend, as we discussed the problems of raising our kids.

During times of trouble when problems need to be solved, or in times of joy and sharing happiness, it always seems a help when a friend says, “Let’s go for coffee.” I believe that sitting down to a good cup of coffee is the avenue which connects friends, and fashions thoughts and dreams between people.

Now, my most satisfying cup of coffee is the first one in the morning as I sit out on the deck waiting for the world to wake up. As the birds get busy scratching the earth for worms, I check out the bottoms of my feet. And Mom, if you can hear me now, my feet have turned out just fine.