I was sitting in a coffee shop near the airport having just dropped off one family member and waiting to pick up another. I was amazed at how lovely the view was outside the big picture window: clear blue sky, a few jet streams shooting off in various directions, the teenage tulip tree and sumac framing my perspective. Ahhh, gratitude for the abounding beauty.
I sat at this corner table typing away when I noticed an older man, about the age of my father, dunking his roll into his hot milky beverage. It reminded me of my childhood. I would visit my Ukrainian grandparents who owned a corner store in New Jersey. The rolls and bread delivered fresh, early every morning. I can hear the bread man pouring them into the heavy cardboard box they’d sit in, their coarse, grainy bottoms rubbing roughly.
While bustling back and forth from the store to help a customer to the kitchen to tend me and other duties, my grandmother would make me hot chocolate. I would take a fresh roll, slather on sweet butter (not the salted butter we had at home), and dunk it into my hot chocolate. I returned to the warmth of that little kitchen as soon as I saw this older man dunking. Then, I heard him speak to his friends: Russian or Ukrainian! The connection solidified.
There was an unspoken bond I felt to him, the gratitude I felt for him bringing my grandmother (Bopchi) back to me!
As an adult I had tried to recreate that culinary experience but the roll, butter, and hot chocolate just never tasted as good. The magic of childhood and my grandmother spoiling me was the key ingredient missing. She’s been gone for more than 20 years, but I’m amazed and grateful that her love and warmth can come back to me in a chance glance in little coffee shop in Maryland.
So thankful for the many gifts already this morning!
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