“A lot changed since I was in my thirties,” my friend Ira said, “What you can buy with a dollar. What you can and can’t say in public.”
She paused and bent over for a sip of tea.
“One thing,” she said, raising a finger, “will always be the same. Hard work.”
“Hard work will always pay off.”
Just a gorgeous photo taken by the talented James Maher.
I visited my friend Ira in Queens, New York twice a year. One time to drop off her birthday gift and one time to drop off a gift in December. I used to work with her in a supermarket when I was fourteen.
She only retired recently at the age of sixty five. It was the asthma, which weighed her body down but not her spirit. Ira was positive. Huffing and puffing, she would crack open her apartment door when I rang (twice a year). She peeked out, the door ajar, like a small child.
“Hello, Ben. Good. Just in time for tea.”
I was always on time for tea at Ira’s.
“Matricaria chamomilla, teaspoon of honey. A pity if you never tasted it.”
Chamomile. A good beverage to have while enjoying stories.
She would talk about her third husband, the five years she spent in Vienna that felt like fifty, or she would talk about her grandchildren. The doctor, the writer, the contractor, the coffee farmer, the accountant, the retired athlete, the writer.
“You must be willing to work and wait. The more seeds you plant, the more likely you’ll grow something. And when you grow that something or somethings, you have to be… oh, how’s the tea? Wonderful? Good… and not just parenting. Whenever you create anything… you’re responsible for its well-being.”
“Create things you care about.”
She opened her gift.
“Oh, how darling. Earl Grey is it? I’ll set it aside for next time.”