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Put the Kettle On
Photo: Mikhail Kovalev
Marianne always put the kettle on. We’d known each other since we attended South High School, in Akron, Ohio. However, the years of our young motherhood launched the full bloom of our friendship. As a friend, she measured well. She died in July 2009. I am poorer without her yet my friendship coffer remains full; I treasure each one who fills a part of my circle, and making new friends is ever a joy.

Along life’s pathway, there is a key element in lasting friendship: the art of listening, the same element that makes a person successful at most anything in life. Marianne knew the listening-art well.

A visit to Marianne’s home found her scurrying to put the kettle on to fix a warm drink—and listen. She liked to brew tea bags in fat mugs. She always made one tea bag do for two mugs. That is, one bag for each of us to each savor two cupfuls. As she listened, she’d press the warm cup close to her cheek and cast her blue eyes directly, lovingly, at me, exposing her obvious sense of caring.

Often in our young years, when money was tight, we’d go into a card shop together and pick out cards to view, telling the other “this card is for you.” We’d sigh or cry over the sentiments, enjoying our bit of frugality. Indeed, those times provided sweet moments of sisterhood serendipity.

Wealth of Family

I always enjoyed listening to her accounts of growing up with Hungarian grandparents on her father’s side of the family—and her American “Hoosier” family on her mother’s side. She seemed so very proud of her queue of maternal aunts. Those stories delighted me as a child of divorce, who knew little about my own heritage. Wealth of family was hers. I enjoyed her family too, especially her mother Elsa and her Aunt Reba. Her children also became special to me.

Listening provided a two-way street for us every time we gathered our skirts about us for a visit in person, by telephone, by postmark mail or in the electronic age by email. We succored each other through both the hardest and most joyous parts of our lives.

She stands out as the one who always put the kettle on. She took time for me, as I did for her. Interestingly, an aspect that I remember well is this; as we discussed something of utmost importance, she’d go to her hutch and choose her daintiest teacups—not the mugs. There were times when “the fine” helped us make the best decisions, and we often made them over demitasse.

Yet be it with delicate china cups or thick mugs, our hearts meshed, a friendship to remember. She never asked if I held a thirst for a warm drink, she simply put the kettle on. With the kettle’s whistle, I knew both safety and love in her presence. Friends are an extension of family and she will ever remain as a sister.

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By Betty Kossick. Copyright © 2010 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.

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