Grandma loved us. She did. Each morning, before the rooster crowed, she’d stir us up from our sleep.

Drink, she said.

That was our wake up call; not the customary Good morning or Rise and Shine — no, none of the sort.

Drink, that was all. Short and to the point.

To each one of us, she gave a bowl of clear, light greenish-brown tonic, fresh from the pot. White, ghastly steam rose from it and wafted into the humid air, and finding our noses, brought with it a very uninviting aroma that churned our stomachs the other way. We stared at the infusion, and would’ve loved if we could but stare at it forever, but we knew we didn’t have that liberty. No, not with grandma.

Drink. A little more stern this time.

Our inquiry as to the nature of the concoction was only partly satisfied with an It’s good for you. What we really wanted to learn was how it tasted. But we lacked the courage to ask; somehow though, we knew she wouldn’t give us an answer anyway. And even if she furnished one, it would’ve been unnecessary. Intuition told us the answer to our curiosity was neither sweet, nor sour, nor salty. Therefore, we were reluctant to follow her order and from time to time, looked at each other to see who would do the drinking first.

But grandma wouldn’t have us tarry any longer, and the final command to drink came with such force and violence of tone that we were compelled to swig the beverage instead. Oh the bitterness! It scoured the tongue and clutched the throat. The glass of water did but a little to help. No treacly in the form of a pie or candy was offered to mitigate the disagreeable flavor. Our faces found more than one way to contort themselves.

In such a way began our mornings during schooldays, drinking bitter beverage and making faces. As recompense, we seldom got sick.

I told you grandma loved us.