“It is inhumane, in my opinion, to force people who have a genuine medical need for coffee to wait in line behind people who apparently view it as some kind of recreational activity.” ― Dave Barry
We would walk into the little donut shop, a tiny place that couldn’t have been more than 500 square feet in size, and everyone knew who he was. “Hey, Preacher!” they’d call. “Who’s that little devil ya’ got with ya’?” He would place our order: a maple glazed long john and coffee for him, a french cruller and chocolate milk for me. We’d sit at a table with a group of men I didn’t know, and then I would lose my father. He’d sit there in conversation for the next hour while I nibbled at my cruller. I knew better than to interrupt. When finished, we’d head for the door and one of the men would inevitably say something about maybe seeing us on Sunday. Rarely did that happen, but occasionally it would.
That is how I learned that about the power of coffee as a conversation tool. More than just a vital drink to keep us going during the day, coffee is a substance that gives us the ability to bond with people we’ve never met, individuals with whom we might have absolutely nothing else in common except our love for that hot caffeinated beverage. I’ve had conversations with complete strangers, people I didn’t know and would never see again, run deep and philosophical, sometimes even confessional, over a cup of coffee. There have been romantic moments, moments of great debate, and periods of comfort that never would have happened were it not for the shared love of coffee.
There have been hundreds if not thousands of conversations over coffee over the years, but it still the ones with Poppa that I remember the most.
“I think I might be in love,” I remember telling him for the first time.
He looked into his coffee and said, “Love doesn’t require a lot of thought, either it is or it isn’t. You just know.”
Then, there was the time, after sitting through half a cup, I told him, “I’m leaving the church. I don’t like how it’s changed.”
“I’m not surprised,” he said, to my surprise. “Just remember that while the church may change, God doesn’t.”
Finally, there was that last cup of coffee. His was decaf. With tears in his eyes, he said, “You know, this is probably the last time we get to do this (have coffee together).”
I choked back my own tears. “Maybe so, but you’ve given me enough great memories to last through a lifetime of coffee.”
Coffee seems like such a simple beverage, but there’s no question in my mind that it changes lives unlike any other drink we encounter. So here’s to coffee, and conversations, and great memories. May they all be part of our lives forever.