Thursday, January 21, 2016

Coffee & Crosswords

     "If you like colored water, you'll have to get your coffee somewhere else."  God knows the Luzianne coffee with chicory root that she used to brew in the morning could put hair on your chest (or take it off your head - a distinct possibility given my father's head and the way mine has turned out.)   Singing in the morning.  Who sings that loudly before the sun's up?  I can remember as a child thinking "if I didn't have to go to school and got to stay at home all day and do crossword puzzles I'd sing in the morning, too."   But that's not all that consumed her day - I was just too innocent (ignorant) to realize it.  Like anyone else raising a family, our clothes got washed, a broom got pushed and a hot meal at suppertime starts in the afternoon.  But when I think about her, the first images that come to my brain are strong coffee, crossword puzzles and that constant singing in the morning.

     Today would've been her 91st birthday and I considered going to the cemetery on my lunch break, putting down some flowers and standing there sad for a minute.  But I could just about hear her voice - "You've had a cold all week.  You don't need to be standing out here in the wet and cold."   She used to say she didn't want an open casket when she died ("I don't want people standing around saying 'Oh, doesn't she look good?!'  No!  I'll look dead!")   In the same conversation she would tell me "and I don't want people standing around at the cemetery staring at the ground.  That's not me in the ground."   Indeed it's not.  "Sweet" is something that lives on in our hearts, in our memories of her.  And 9 times out of 10 it's the first word I hear folks use when remembering her. "Your mama was so sweet."   "She was so sweet to us."  "She was sweet and she could cook!"  

     And she could make a pretty good cup of coffee.  My bride loves to poke fun at my own coffee addiction.  "I've never seen anybody who could just chug scalding hot coffee like you and  Erfy!"  I take it as a compliment - maybe if I can chug coffee as well as she did someday I'll learn to be as sweet as she was.  Probably not...and there's no chance I can breeze through a crossword as quickly as she did.  And my singing is not something you ever want to hear at any time of the day.  The fact that today's her birthday didn't make me  miss her any more than I already miss her every other day of the year.  And she'd be ok with that, I think.  "Just finish your work, make a pot of coffee and decide what you're gonna cook Rhonda for dinner."  I miss her but I can still hear her...


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