Black and White, Things I Hope My Kids Will Read One Day

I want to be just like the woman at the coffee shop when I grow up.

May 10, 2020

When I was around 20 years old and playing in a band full time, I would stop by the coffee and donut shop, near my apartment, after the gig. You’d always find me and several other regulars there, night after night, winding down from our “shifts” with coffee and a donut.

Or was that the reason we were there?

I knew that, for me, it was more about visiting with the woman behind the counter than it was for any coffee or donut — but oh the donut! The reason it was so good was that she knew I liked the maple glazed kind so, when she saw me coming in, she would take one and drizzle extra maple on it just for me. She’d greet me with a smile and a hug and tell me how happy she was to see me and then she’d always ask how the gig went? 

But here’s the best part.

She listened (really listened) to what I had to tell her. She’d laugh and smile her beautiful smile — I mean, who wouldn’t want that coffee and donut?! She made sure I knew I was special and she knew how special she was to me. Then one night, many nights into this coffee shop routine, I looked around the room and saw on the faces of others what I felt inside — welcomed and cared for — I mattered. If to no one else, I mattered to her and so did they. 

I listened to her conversations with them, as much as I listened to my own with her — this woman — this wise and beautiful woman was in her way…well, healing people from the inside out. Over the years I watched from across the room as laughter erupted, tears fell, and anger subsided. I don’t know what all the stories were about, but I do know they were made better by her. 

One person — one beautiful, wise, kind and caring woman — intently listening to people and making a difference in their lives.  What a gift! Making people feel…no, scratch that, making people understand that they matter and sometimes (by my observations) for the first time. I felt privileged to watch it happen. 

I was reminded of those times as I watched my mother from across the room, listening to my Yittle, just as beautiful as she was all those years ago in the coffee shop. Listening in that special way that she has always listened, and as I saw the look on my little girl’s face (a look I have seen on so many faces before), I felt privileged all over again. Privileged and grateful that my children have this beautiful woman in their lives to listen and listen well. 

Mom, in case I haven’t told you lately, you pour the best cup of coffee — ever. When I grow up, I want to be just…like…you.

Happy Mother’s Day — I love you.


I wrote this a few years ago, and it has now become a tradition to share it every year. To all the mothers — I hope your day is special and Happy Mother’s Day!  💐💝🌺




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  • Reply Jonathan Thompson May 13, 2017 at 10:58 am

    Thank you for sharing utterly magical moments from your life. No matter how many times you post this it will continue to matter and connect with those who share it with you.
    I adore how we can be enriched simply by observing the actions and interactions of others. As long as we remember to see when we look, stories are happening every moment, all around us. When we become aware and look for moments, we see so much, with immense depth, able to have our spiritual energies lifted at any given second of the day.
    Daily I remind myself how my smallest actions of kindness and caring could drastically change the moments of anyone around me. Self awareness has been a preoccupation of mine all my life. Only fairly recently have a realised it. It’s me, you, the coffee shop lady, your Mom who makes the magic happen. The spirit in all of us is what connects to others. As creatives (and that’s all of us) it’s important to make our work stand out from the shouts and attentions of the noise of life. Remembering we are unique, the one an only, never to be repeated, gives us guidance of where to put in the work.
    Whatever mechanical steps we take to create, it starts with us. The magic lies within. How bloody epic is that!!! 😉

    • Reply kalebrakelby May 14, 2017 at 7:31 am

      Bloody epic! Hahaha!! Jonathan Thompson, you’re awesome! 🙂

  • Reply Carolyn Fahm May 13, 2017 at 5:45 pm

    This reminds me of something that was dear to my father’s heart. He often said that it doesn’t matter what job it is that you do. What mattered is how you did it. Pride in your work, connecting with people as my father always did, truly listening and then responding in a way that makes the other person feel truly recognized . . . these beautiful character traits that you learned at your mother’s side are what make you the incredibly special person that you are. And now your Yittle is the third generation to carry on in the spirit of love and compassion. I truly love this story. May you and your mother have a truly blessed Mother’s Day.

    • Reply kalebrakelby May 14, 2017 at 7:35 am

      Thank you Carolyn, and may you have a blessed and beautiful day as well. 💜

  • Reply Averil Hall May 14, 2017 at 5:51 pm

    What a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. Happy Mother’s Day!

    • Reply kalebrakelby May 18, 2017 at 9:43 am

      My pleasure. Thank you for reading it, Averil. 🙂

  • Reply Lisa Gordon May 15, 2017 at 3:15 pm

    What a beautiful tribute to a wonderful Mom!

    • Reply kalebrakelby May 18, 2017 at 9:44 am

      Thank you, Lisa — I dig her. 😉

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