Coffee and Character

“Coffee and Character”
A Character Sketch

My fingers traced the familiar books. Shelves clothed the walls like a winter coat leaving no surface bare. The houses change, but the books are a constant in the chaos called our lives. From Florida to Texas and across the ocean to Spain, the books followed us. Some of my fondest memories were spent between the pages of books. Others were spent with the owner of whose books my fingers now traced.

If books are cold friends, coffee is the warmest of companions, especially when shared with my father. Many memories originate from neighborhood coffee shops. Dad and I would drive down to the local Spanish bar and order “dos tazas de café con leche y dos vasos de agua” (two cups of coffee and two glasses of water). Dad would bring his laptop, I would take my books, and we would sit and study for hours. Coffee was our escape. Not from the work that followed us there, but from the pressures and obligations of the “outside world.” Dad answered and discussed voiced questions. When none surfaced, we simply shared one another’s company. Words proved unnecessary. Intelligent and theologically sound, my father was a living, breathing book whose pages contained a lifetime of experience. Discussions with him taught me how to think, ask questions, and grow in my faith. Coffee escapades were treasured times, however frequent or infrequent they came, not for the caffeinated beverage but for the man of God I shared it with.

Whatever I found myself in—sports, drama, band—he strove for mutual involvement. He drove me to practices, attended my games and, like a playbook, coached me along the way. If I had a project that kept me up late, my Dad was there helping me through it. For instance, freshman year, a Spanish CD cover project kept me working uncharacteristically late. Frustrated to my breaking point and eyes threatening tears, I burrowed into the safety of my father’s embrace. Hours later he remained with me, looking up images and printing and gluing papers. As the four o’clock a.m. hour approached, I realized I could forever count on my father as a constant, faithful companion.

Mom used to tell me how Dad would wake me up at night when I was little. He worked days and wasn’t able to see me. Standing over my crib until I stirred, he would say, “See? I can play with her because she’s already awake!” (I blame my owl-like nature on him). My father loved me. We are inseparable today because he spent time with me then.
As college came closer and that inevitable departure grew near, I could sense a change in my father. I vividly remember one of our last coffee excursions together.

“Daddy, I love you, and I’m going to miss this.”

A few tears collected in his eyes. “Me too.”

“I’ll be back for Christmas.”

Half-heartedly he agreed I would be back for Christmas.

Later that week, I approached his study, weary from the preperations of my departure. Salt sprinkled into pepper black hair, glasses resting on his nose, highlighted book in hand—Dad sat at his computer.

“Dad.”

“Yes, Sweetie?”

“I’m going to miss you.”

A tear trailed my cheek, followed by another. I couldn’t hold back the tears. Neither could he.

Now I venture to local coffee venues alone. Dragging along books and a laptop, I sit and study for hours. But I am not alone. Dad taught me how to think, explore, create. His words and advice guide the motivations behind my actions. When I flip through the pages of a book and sip my coffee, my heart aches. I miss my daddy, and I know he misses his little girl. Yet, we both realize heartache is part of life, part of growing up. Just as I’m Daddy’s little girl, so too I hope to follow in his footnotes seeking after the heart of God.

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