CREDOS : Good memory — I

Not long ago, I went to visit my elderly Aunt Mary who lives in a nursing home. Alzheimer’s disease had taken its toll. As I sat beside her, my aunt stared vacantly into space, her once vibrant features frozen into an unhappy frown. She hardly glanced at the bouquet of daisies I had brought, and when I tried to take her hand, she pulled away from me in fright. I felt a terrible sense of loss, remembering how close we had been.

As a very young girl, I loved to visit Aunt Mary. Childless herself, she had time and energy to lavish on a favourite niece. My favourite spot was a chair at her kitchen table where she always served me tea, sometimes accompanied by her Irish soda bread. As we drank our tea, she listened intently to my stories about school and my worries about friendship. Sometimes she would tell me tales of her childhood on a farm in Ireland.

Aunt Mary taught me many things — how to take up a hem, how to write a thank-you note, and, most important of all, how to make a proper pot of tea. First, she told me, you put on the kettle, and just before the water comes to a boil, you fill the teapot halfway with hot water to warm it. When the kettle boils, you keep it simmering while you throw out the water in the teapot, and then put in a level spoonful of tea leaves. After you add the boiling water, you let it steep for a few minutes.

Then, before you serve it, you strain the leaves with care. —