A teapot grandmother


By Janice Lindsay

Two events occurred around the same time, one momentous to me and one apparently of no consequence to anybody. Were they connected? Who knows what forces operate beneath life’s surface?

First, the momentous event: I became a grandmother. I had waited a long time to be a Grammy. I had come to believe that it would never happen. Then – surprise! – Gracie. She lives on the other side of the country, so at first I saw only her photo. I could tell from the photo – and I say this without bias of any kind – that she was the most beautiful, brilliant baby ever born to humankind.

With the arrival of Gracie, my view of the future shifted and expanded. I had always known, in a theoretical way, that the world will, some day, continue without me, though I’ve never been quite sure how everyone will manage. But now that I was Grammy, the future opened wider and became more personal. An actual little girl will carry a part of me forward, into decades that I will never see.

Now for the second event, the apparently inconsequential one: I bought a teapot.

I had been drinking tea for years. Normally, I would plunk a teabag in a mug, pour boiling water on it, let the bag float for a while, dunk it a few times, maybe squeeze it, and drink the tea.

Then suddenly, there arose in my mind, unbidden and unexpected, the desire to buy a ceramic teapot. I simply told myself that it was about time for me to make tea like a grown-up, in a covered pot, the way tea was intended to be made, to steep in its own fragrant mist.

It was not easy to find the proper teapot: not too little, not too big, that would look good in my kitchen. I visited local stores, but nobody had what I wanted.

I finally tried the thrift shop that sells donated, used items to benefit our local hospital. Eureka! I found a dozen teapots, displayed at various spots throughout the shop. I examined the merits of each pot. I chose a squat, white teapot decorated in a water-color-style paintings of fruits and vegetables in pastel greens, yellows, and reds that would match my kitchen décor.

During the search, my conscious mind suddenly realized what my unconscious mind had been trying to tell me: Real grandmothers use teapots. I needed a teapot as a direct result of becoming a little girl’s Grammy.

I so well remember my own grandmother’s teapot, a capacious, deep burgundy ceramic pot with gold trim, a wide strong handle, and a gracefully curving spout. Grandma’s teapot lived on her over-sized cast-iron range. It formed the center of her cozy kitchen, always present when children or grandchildren sat at her kitchen table, sharing their triumphs and their sorrows, finding a ready non-judgmental sympathy and a comforting, or celebratory, cup of tea.

For reasons of geography and because we have only one child – not seven, like my grandparents – I can never be the grandmother my grandmother was. But I remember her whenever I make a pot of tea, carrying her memory into my future. Maybe some day I’ll share a pot of tea with Gracie and with – a second wonderful surprise – her delightful younger sister Violet. We’ll talk, and I’ll tell them about their grandmothers.

My new, used pot undoubtedly has its own history, which I will never know. But at least it is a sign that I have officially arrived. I have a teapot. I am a real grandmother.

Contact jlindsay@tidewater.net