The Invitation 

There’s a coffee cup waiting at my place at the table. 

My dad started a Wednesday night tradition years ago when the rest of us were busy with AWANA (kid’s club) at my church. He headed down the hill to my grandpa’s house, and the two generations of farmers talked over crops and animals and weather while they ate the meal my grandpa prepared. 

When I’m home, I get to be part of this weekly rhythm. Particularly now that my seasons in Nebraska are fewer and farther between, Wednesday night suppers at my grandpa’s house are a special privilege. He’s almost 91 and it is harder for him to get up and down and around the kitchen, but as soon as my dad and I arrive he pulls out potatoes, corn or peas, baked chicken or pork chops from the oven where they’ve been staying warm. Sometimes there are biscuits, but more often a loaf of bread with butter and cheese. 

I listen to the conversation flow about the customers who visit my dad at the grain elevator, my grandpa’s opinion on the yield this harvest season. I love when they start reminiscing, talking about when my grandpa was a kid growing up in this county, or sharing memories of crazy snow storms, old farm machinery, or my grandma who has been gone for 24 years now, my own memories of her faint and few. 

Then comes my favorite part of the meal, as we finish up the main course and get ready for dessert- my choice normally between canned fruit or ice cream. My grandpa looks at me from his end of the table with the question, “Are you ready for coffee?” I pass my cup and he fills it up from the thermos that is there waiting. 

For as long as I can remember, there’s been a thermos, the orange ceramic cups, the after-dinner cup of coffee. Somehow the coffee-love skipped my dad’s generation, but once my grandpa found out that I started drinking coffee at the end of college, he’s had a cup there waiting. He’s invited me to be part of the rhythm and ritual of finishing out a delicious meal, pausing and savoring and slowing before work begins again or conversation moves on. 

It is something I treasure, small but precious- seeing that coffee cup waiting for me each week. 

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