Background: Tim Russert’s Wisdom of Our Fathers has hundreds of stories men and women tell about their fathers. It’s a remarkable book–to learn more, see my co-authored column America’s Father Hunger (World Net Daily, 10/13/06). Conesus, NY–This story is “The Companion” from Beth Hacket, Conesus, NY, daughter of Roger Hacket, instrument technician (1924-1995)
Have you ever thought about why you do some of the things you do? Is it all simple routine or does it have meaning? Your morning cup of coffee, for example. Do you drink it for the taste or because you need a jolt? 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–these are good reasons to drink coffee, but I drink it because of my dad. 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 left early in the morning, long before Mom and I were awake; He came home exhausted and slept until it was time to do it all over again. It was hard on him because he had so little time 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 would have something to play with at work. Dad”s special time for me was morning coffee. He would get up at 4 A.M., 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 poured two cups of coffee. His was always black. Mine was 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 good night before heading out to work. It was our special time together, and we never missed. When I moved away from home, we talked on the phone every day. Now our special time was cooking dinner together. He cooked for Mom, I cooked for my husband. We never missed. He died in 1995, and I still miss him. Every morning I make a pot of coffee and sit at the kitchen table. My coffee is still just barely brown, full of milk and sugar, sweet to the taste. When I raise the 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 Dad will be back tomorrow. My cup of coffee is never routine. It”s always special. I”m having coffee with my dad.