Have you ever thought about why you do some of the things you do? Is it all simple routine or does it have meaning? For instance, your morning cup of coffee ... do you drink it for the taste or because you need a jolt? I had a conversation about just that with a friend today. He was surprised when I said, "For me, it's neither."
Don't get me wrong, I love coffee. The smell of freshly ground beans, the silky sweet taste, the warmth of the mug in my hands; all good enough reasons to drink coffee, but mine goes a bit deeper than that. I drink coffee because of my dad.
My dad and my mom always said I was a love child. Dad was twenty years older than Mom and I think I was a bit of a surprise, though they have always denied it. I loved it when he would walk between me and my mom, holding our hands tight in his huge, calloused ones. We were a family and he made it special because he loved us both so much.
I was an only child. Mom said I was plenty. Dad said I was perfect. He worked hard to support us. Twelve hour shifts with thirteen days on and only one day off, because overtime paid the bills. He would leave early in the morning, long before Mom and I were awake. He would come home exhausted and sleep until it was time to do it all over again. It was hard on him because he had so little time to spend with us. It was hard on us, too. We all found little ways to compensate. Mom would pack his lunch and take one bite of his sandwich, so he would smile when it was time to eat. I would put my favorite toy in his lunchbox so he had something to play with at work.
Dad's special time for me was morning coffee. He would get up at 4:00 am, start the coffee brewing and get ready for work. When the pot was ready, he would come into my room and wake me up. I would sit at the kitchen table as he would pour two cups of coffee. His was always black. Mine was always just barely brown, full of milk and sugar, sweet to the taste. Dad would tell me about his day and ask about mine. When the cups were empty, he would tuck me back into bed and kiss me goodnight before heading out to work. It was our special time together and we never missed.
When I moved away from home, we would talk on the phone every day. Now our special time was cooking dinner together on the phone. Him cooking for Mom, me for my husband. We never missed.
My dad died in 1995. His health was poor for several years but his death was sudden and unexpected. I didn't get to say goodbye. Unlike some people, this does not torment me. My dad loved me, was proud of me; as I was of him. I know this because he told me every single day of my life. Not with just words, which he was never shy about saying, but with actions. Our special time together was always that-- special, and full of love for each other.
I still miss him. Every morning I make a pot of coffee and sit at the kitchen table. My coffee is always just barely brown, full of milk and sugar, sweet to the taste. When I raise my mug to my lips and drink that first sweet sip, I see my dad-- sitting across from me, a smile on his face and a cup of coffee in his hands. Saying goodbye does not torment me, because I know that Dad will be back tomorrow.
My cup of coffee is never routine, it's always special -- because I'm having coffee with my dad.