Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Dad's Coffee Cup
As I stirred my coffee this morning, I thought back to places in my childhood- the sound of a metal spoon being swirled inside the thick Buffalo China coffee cup that my dad claimed as "his" for as long as I can remember. His hand was always gripped around his mug and his cigarette slowly dropping gray ashes into a nearby tray.
That same coffee mug was the center of "company"- on evenings when friends from church gathered around the gray Formica table, smoked cigarettes and ate donuts with their coffee. Somehow Dad always managed to spring for a few dozen Dixie Cream donuts. (Or maybe they split the cost?). Either way, I still drool at the sight of those blue and white gingham boxes stuffed with glazed, fluffed and jellied delights. And the kitchen offered an awesome perfume... A mixture of strong coffee, sweet pastries and puffs of cigarette smoke. Heavenly...
Sometimes I would lie awake in the morning and hear Dad in the kitchen, pulling his chair out and smashing the middle of freshly fried eggs into a yellow pulp with his "grease gravy". Then he'd eat cold butter and jelly blended with a fork on top of Mom's extra-special canned biscuits.
There was only a soft hum as he and Mom talked- (As a mother, I now know they secretly hoped that all us kids would stay in bed a while longer). And again, the swirl of a spoon inside his china cup was an unconscious sense of comfort to me.
Dad often took his cup to the living room, and carefully placed the steamy coffee next to his recliner as he cranked it back and lifted his feet. Then he pulled on his eyeglasses, fitting them slightly down the bridge of his nose, and cracked open a faded paperback that was covered with wild horses...or space ships. He loved to read both Westerns and Sci-Fi- perhaps to keep his feet in both doors of time.
Sometimes he would have his favorite bologna rolled into a meaty cone- to be eaten with crackers- while he searched for a good black and white cowboy movie on TV. Other times it was a variety show like Carol Burnett or a series like the Honeymooners. I liked watching those kind of programs with the family.
But Lord help us all if it was a Sunday and all that was on was sports! I still cringe at the voice of football announcers and basketball referees blowing their whistles and the sound of a bat cracking as the crowd grows wild....
I think my brother Cranston has Dad's coffee cup now. I hope he uses it. I hope he makes that bittersweet sound as he stirs a metal spoon around the inside. I hope he remembers fondly the blurry childhood of Dad's presence, his unspoken love, and days that still sparkle brightly within our hearts.