Monday, October 30, 2006

Thank You Starbucks

My mother had a tendency to be a hypochondriac. Every six months it was a new ailment that she would see on TV or read in the paper. We couldn’t keep up. So when she complained of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome we kind of laughed, after all, she never worked on a computer or used her wrists like that in any way. Unfortunately her warnings this time turned into something very real.

She went into Hershey Medical Center in May of this year to endure a biopsy. It turns out her mysterious wrist problem was caused by a tumor in the right hemisphere of her brain. This operation would determine if it was benign or malignant.

As my mother was recovering from surgery, I carted my father around in a wheelchair so he wouldn’t have to walk the long corridors. Actually I did it to keep him calm, after all my mother was his entire life.

At one point I wheeled him over to the main entrance and there, in all it’s glory, was a Starbucks concession. For a moment I thought I heard a choir as the sunlight illuminated the counter. I hadn’t realized that my need for a Vanilla Latté had grown while I had been taking care of my parents. It had become so great, I ordered a Venti.

My Dad is famous. He is the model they used for the father on
Every Body Loves Raymond, (I’m serious). So when I told him I would give him a taste of my latté if he waited patiently, I was hit with his old-fashioned logic –

“Why the hell would I want a Starbuck’s coffee? I never had one yet, why should I start?”
“Dad, just relax, It’ll only take a minute.”
“Four dollars for coffee, I never heard of such a thing. It’s crap. You kids have been brainwashed…”

He kept going. I asked the female barista if she would be so kind as to give me a tall cup to share with my father. She looked over my shoulder to see my father in his wheel chair, smiled and handed me a cup, a lid and a cup sleeve.

“You gotta be kidding me. What’s the big deal…?”
I handed him his cup and he shut-up for a minute. The cup went to his mouth as I unlocked his chair, and there it was…that look. The wondrous taste began to work it’s magic, and then he just sat there, dumbfounded. Then he spoke…“Wow, that’s not bad.” He was happy. Finally.

When we returned to my mother’s room, she was awake and had that impatient quality I know so well – she wanted to go home.
“Where did you boys go?” She always called us boys. “Starbucks.”
Before it was all said and done I was pouring some Vanilla Latté into her hospital cup. She took a sip through her straw. And once again, Starbuck’s worked it’s magic.

I looked down and it suddenly dawned on me that I hadn’t had anymore than a couple of sips from my cup. But something different filled the room. It was that quiet that comes after dessert. In the silence, they weren’t scared that my mother would pass, or that my father’s health was fading or that they were in a strange place. They were happy and content. And then my father looked up from his empty Starbuck’s cup and broke the moment…
“Hey, is there anymore left?”

My mother died at the very end of August. Her funeral was on the very last day of summer. She loved the summer. But I don’t want this to be a sad moment on my blog. I just want to thank Starbucks for bringing some joy into my parent’s life.

A great brand and some great memories.
Thanks again for reading,


Brad Szollose