Ele made herself a cup of tea. It was a freezing cold evening in Chicago, the blizzard created a cover of ice on the roads, the wind was getting through the old windows of her apartment. She could hear the whistling sound the wind created, each more intense than the one before. As she was turning on her gas fireplace, Ele thought that the designers of this fireplace did a good job on making the fake wood logs look real.
Mmm, linden tea with honey - her favorite, with each inhale of the teas aroma, memories of her grandfather become vivid like everything that happened long time ago was happening in the present. She could see herself when she was 5 looking up to him standing on a wood ladder and picking linden flowers in his garden. She could see all the trees around, some linden, some acacia, all the trees that the bees would prefer the most. Her grandfather told her that for four families of bees, few linden and acacia trees he had in his garden is not enough food. They fly long distance to forest near by. She remembered her fascination when her grandfather told her that they always know exactly how to fly back home. Their scent leads them to where their home is. She could see him dressed in what looked to her like an astronaut costume and picking honey from the beehive. In those moments Ele and her sister Nica could only watch from far. They were not scared anymore of one bee’s sting. Anytime, they would get a bee sting, when crying that it hurt, they were told that the sting is actually something good for your immune system. It hurts only because our body is upset too because the bee died after the sting. Interesting thing about believes from the past, even to this moment this explanation still comes to mind first.
Ele thought that perhaps aromas and scents are the real time machine, the only time machine we need. To go in the future would ruin the present moment, the present moment would loose its magic. To go in past is not very necessary, there are history books and photos. The only time machine is beneficial sometimes is the one that brings the memory back to life. That is what this tea does, she thought.
As she enjoyed the tea, Ele could see herself sitting on one of the small chairs her grandfather made for her and the small wooden table, so anytime they visited him, they had their personal setting. Through the window the snow looked so heavy on the linden trees that 10 years old Ele and her sister 9 years old Nica were betting how much longer before the branch actually dumps the snow and goes back to its straight position. Their grandfather was serving them breakfast, linden tea with bread and feta cheese, no honey this time, their grandfather was getting old and he couldn’t take proper care of the bees. Moving the bees and their house was a difficult process, but he was happy about moving them in good hands. He could remember when he found the first bee family in the forest near by. It was raining and they were all in their beehive. He brought them home, he built from wood his first bee house just few days before. Since then, honey was always present in the house. In the tea, on bread , sometimes when kids got a cold honey was used as first aid medicine to stop a cough or heal wounds. His grandchildren always got honey for Christmas, but Ele’s favorite was the honey made from linden flowers, her grandfather would bring them a big jar for each grandchild at the end of summer. Kids were not yet in school. She would spread butter and honey on fresh baked bread and ran outside to play. Ele went in the kitchen and made herself the same snack.
The last times her grandfather made Ele and her sisters his specialty linden tea it was without honey or sandwiches. 13 years old Ele was now twice a big sister. Her baby sister Alexandra was 3. It was a cold winter evening in Moldova, just like the one today in Chicago, Ele thought. The tea boiled on a traditional Moldovan stove built on top of fireplace. It warmed up the room and also it was used to cook food on top of it or boil tea. Her grandfather brought extra wood in the house, the night was expected to be one of the coldest. Ele and her sisters were at his house for the weekend. She could remember that she thought was odd that her grandfather thought her baby sister is actually her middle sister. They were laughing at their grandfather thinking he is being silly not remembering her youngest sister’s name. Later she realized those were the first signs of Alzheimers.
For the few years that came after that, Ele did not remember much her grandfather. She has brief memories from the nights Ele’s parents were looking for her grandfather and she would be left at home with her sisters. There were attempts to get some kind of treatment, which was almost non existing in Moldova. Everyone that was suffering from any mental illnesses was placed in the same room and clinic and were given the same medication. After seeing that his condition worsened, his kids decided to bring him home. Some days, he would remember them and talk to them like he did not see them in a long time. The kids cherish those moments. Before his death, he had few minutes when his memory was clear, all kids were around him, they each took a moment with him, he was completely present, he couldn’t talk clearly, but in his eyes they could see the love he had for them. That was a magical moment, they felt gratefulness to have the chance to say goodbye.
Ele thought about what was that brought her grandfather’s memory back in that final moment? Or in the moments he gained his memory back briefly before? Is it possible that it was a familiar scent? Scent is what made the bees remember their way back home. The aroma of the tea is what brought her memories of him. She almost felt regret that she never thought of that back then, she could have made a linden tea and maybe drink it together with her grandfather, maybe that could bring back his memory.
The wind was blowing stronger, the whistling sounded like it was about to take the balcony door away, that brought Ele’s attention back to the present and the blizzard. She thought the wind whistling sounded almost like the boiling tea on her grandfather’s stove. She smiled.
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Hello Elena, I enjoyed reading your tale and loved the notion of tea as a provider of memories and an antidote for the advance of Alzheimer’s. There’s a wonderfully quirky logic to using tea as a restorative for the mind. It would be interesting to develop the story further and read more about Ele and her grandfather; do they try out her idea and what would happen if she could help her grandfather? The only thing that I can add is to suggest that you check your writing for the odd missing word. I spotted several omissions, so maybe run your ...
That was a very well written and heartwarming tale, Elena. Thank you for sharing it.
Thank you Stevie for taking the time to read it!
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Thank you Mae for reading my story. I will keep in mind your feedback. He is!
What is the plot of your story elena?