Sep 4 2013

Tea, Comfort, and Family…Miscellaneous Musings

mariannerusso

I’m heartbroken by the recent loss of my Big Brother. Of course, we both were well into the last half of our adulthood, but he’ll always be my Big Brother, all the same. We were only siblings, and divided by 5 years, so we didn’t really grow up running in the same circles. I was the pesky little sister, always wanting to tag along where I wasn’t wanted; as a teen I had a Big Crush on several of his older friends. But NO WAY was he going to let THAT go anywhere!While he definitely could view me as a pest, he was very protective.

Bill didn’t really like tea that much, except near the end of his life. But we both came from tea, so he understood my passion and fascination with it, in part because it was so entwined in our family life. Our Father and his family came to America from England, so tea was the beverage of choice growing up. For us it was a little tea with some sugar and lots of milk; for the adults tea with milk and sugar. Our mom, who grew up in the warmer climates of the Mid-Atlantic, contributed iced tea to the family table.

Both our Father and his Father worked for the A&P Supermarkets all their adult lives; during those times, it really was The Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company! Bill’s first formal job the summer after he graduated High School was as a stock boy at the A&P, something he reminisced about during his final days. One of my proudest memories from my childhood was being old enough to be allowed to help Kathleen, the coffee lady, grind the coffee in the store; that smell has never left my nostrils, sometimes making it hard for me properly evaluate teas. So you see, we really were “Steeped in Tea”.

In recent years whenever Bill visited us, he was always willing to help me at Nellie’s in any way he could. One year we had him folding linen napkins and tying narrow ribbons around them in preparation  for a Spring Tea by the Sea at The Breakers. He had a great sense of humor and would often make fun of holding out his pinky as he drank his tea. He was a successful corporate businessman and was always trying to give me advice about how to proceed with Nellie’s; thing was he was used to a much bigger budget than mine!

Tea is a comfort food for me, and so recently as I think about my brother and our family, I revert to that English style black tea with milk and sugar. Granted, my palate is a little more sophisticated now, so Red Rose and Lipton don’t quite cut it, but English tea it is. I’ll continue to try to live up to the standards of my Big Brother; he was a great brother, son, father, and a good friend to so many who have come forward to tell their stories of him and how he treated people. Love you Bill. Here’s a tea to you XOXO 

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