This morning I’m missing Mom so much! As I was getting ready to drink the tea I had just made for myself, an overwhelming sense of loss came over me. I added a little milk and it reminded me of the innumerable cups of tea waiting quietly and patiently for me on my nightstand… made by Mom every morning. Lovingly prepared by a mother of eight just for me. Lipton for Ludy, not the generic Red Rose brand from Fred Meyer’s because in Mom’s mind, I deserved the best. If the tea got cold because I woke up too late, [for many years unbeknownst to me] it was magically whisked away and warmed up/refreshed so I would be enjoying tea at just the right temperature. And this ritual didn’t end when I grew up… it continued even when I was in my 50’s visiting with my mom in her apartment at Belmont Dairy in Southeast Portland. It was love with skin on it as my pastor in North Carolina would say. Not many spoken words, the “I love you!” statements so characteristic of our adopted American culture. But an unmistakable joy in serving the ones she loved; love demonstrated through her actions.
Now what about the rice and semur ayam? As kids, we loved the sweet flavor of chicken stewed in onions, broth and black ketjap (Indonesian soy sauce) served with white rice scooped from a mottled gray enamel steamer. And three little birds, Ludy, Lorette and Michelle, would sit in a row waiting to be hand fed by our mom from a community bowl and one spoon. Michelle would chirp out, “Sauce only, no meat!” The other two just fidgeted in place with expectation and anticipation of our next delicious bite. I’m not really sure how old we were when this started nor when it ended but it left an indelible marker on my lifeline – yet another reminder of a loving mother and the unbreakable bond I have with my siblings. What might have seemed commonplace and normal when it was happening has become a cherished memory that invokes all its love and warmth by just picturing this scene in my mind’s eye.
So I’m writing down these memories and describing in detail these moments so there is no way Nancy Tency will ever be forgotten. The next generations need to know about this kind of old school, old world love from a different era.