I asked my Grandma Libby what her best tip was for a happy marriage. As I got ready on my wedding day, five years ago this past June, I picked her brain. She and my grandfather were married for over 50 years, so surely she’d have something to share.
“What’s the most important thing we need to know, Grandma?” I expected wise words that would anchor our newlywed life to come.
“Always have coffee ready,” she said. I wondered if she’d heard me correctly.
“Marriage advice, Grandma? Do you have any?” I asked again.
“Yes. Always have coffee ready.”
Confused, I asked her to clarify.
“Well, it’s simple. You’ll probably want a cup. He’ll probably want a cup. So, just always have some coffee ready. Because then you always have something to drink while you sit together and just talk. Or you’ll have coffee when friends come over, which you’ll want them to do. Just have the coffee ready.”
There it was. The real advice.
“Oh, so you mean take time to actually communicate and have a hospitable home,” I said, nodding in agreement.
“That’s what I said. Always have the coffee ready.”
She was a bright and kind woman, my Grandma Libby. For over 50 years, she had done just that. She had coffee ready — a pot of Folgers, warm and ready for the serving, cream and sugar if you wanted it. She drank it black. Piping hot or ice cold, she didn’t mind.
She had a decorative sign by the pot. “Don’t criticize the coffee. You might be old and weak yourself someday,” the sign read.
But her coffee was never weak. And her advice never unheeded.
We almost always have coffee ready. It gives my husband and I something to sip on early in the morning before our girls wake up, or in the afternoon as we tidy the house, prepare dinner and try to catch a moment’s peace before the chaos of bedtime.
When friends come over, it’s a pot of coffee we make. When dinner is finished, it’s hot decaf we serve. When the day drags on, it’s cold brew we pull from the fridge.
Always have the coffee ready.
A few weeks ago, my almost 4-year-old daughter Rose asked me about our Grandma Libby. She passed away in June 2020. Attending her wake and funeral made a mark on her.
Rose remembers praying at the casket. She remembers sitting in the living room, telling stories of our beloved Grandma. She talks about how Grandma Libby would give her a cookie while she served coffee to the rest of us.
“Is Grandma Libby in heaven?” she asked me.
“We hope and pray she is,” I told her.
“With Jesus!” she confidently said.
“Yes, with Jesus.”
A few moments passed and she asked, “When is Jesus coming back here?”
Not wanting to cause an existential crisis the summer before pre-K, I simply told her, “At the end of the age,” my theology degree coming in handy.
Without missing a beat, Rose asked, “Is he going to ding-dong the door and come have a snack?”
I couldn’t help but laugh. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock” translates to “Behold, I stand at the door and ding-dong” for a child.
Maybe that is what will happen. Maybe he will stand at the door — of our home and our heart — and want to come into our lives and be with us in the most ordinary, mundane ways. Like when we’re preparing dinner, rushing kids out the door for school or vacuuming a carpet that will never be as clean as we’d like.
Maybe Jesus stands at the door and ding-dongs because he wants to be close to us, not just at the end of the age, but in the age we’re in right now and in the circumstances we find ourselves in at this moment. Where he just wants to come in, sit with us, live life with us and be with us.
And maybe he’ll ask for a snack … or something else.
Let’s hope we have the coffee ready.
Katie Prejean McGrady is an award-winning author and host of The Katie McGrady Show on Sirius XM’s The Catholic Channel. She lives in Louisiana with her husband and daughters.