My coffee shop experience began after my senior year in high school.
During that year one of my brothers, his wife, and one of their three children died in an automobile accident. My other brother adopted the two remaining children, graduated from college, and moved to Bay City that year after having accepted the position of Assistant County Agent of Matagorda County.
The farming project in 1966 was left to Daddy and me. Hadn’t ever been that way before. The older brothers were always the “first responders” when our dad wanted something done.
Now it was me… and my Daddy. Just the two of us.
Many of you readers know what summer life on an irrigated cotton farm is like. The predominant irrigation method of the day was by way of siphon tubes. A farmer would “cut” a ditch, fill it with water, siphon the water from the ditch into the field, down the row until it reached the other end of the field.
The timing of the deal was critical. One hoped and worked toward the goal of saturating the rows by trickling the water from one of the field to the other in a 12-hour “set.” The rate of flow through the tubes was determined by the level of water in the ditch. A higher level in the ditch meant that the tube was siphoning more water meaning a faster trip down the row. A shorter set of rows required a lower water level in the ditch in order to make a 12-hour set work.
There wasn’t much “wiggle room” when my dad gave an assignment. There was one way to do the job. His way. I was working to prove myself at this critical time to myself and to my dad.
That summer, I watched my parents grieve over the loss of one son and his wife and then help another son and his new wife move several hours away, after having assumed a huge responsibility for raising two newly-adopted preschool children.
We were all grieving. We needed more from our relationship than we’d ever had before. I had a plan.
I started going to the drug store each morning with my dad and the other old guys. For a few days, I’m thinking they were wondering, “What’s Gerre doing here?” After a while, things felt okay.
Then one day, standing on the sidewalk in front of the drug store in Lorenzo, Texas, my dad said, “Let’s go see what everybody’s doing.” That was my dad’s way of saying, “Get in the pickup. Let’s drive down these dirt roads and talk a little. We might stop and talk to somebody, but if it’s just you and me talking, that’ll be just fine.”
In my dad’s last years on the planet, I was the one with whom he could talk regarding his feelings and thoughts. He confided in me. We talked about spiritual things and emotional things. We shared thoughts and dreams and questions that people who love each other share.
It started because I decided to spend some time in the coffee shop with some people I loved very much and some other people I came to love very much.
So… if someday I ask you to let me buy you a cup of coffee, it might be that one of us needs a sit-down with a friend. Might be good for both of us.
Gerre Joiner is a semi-retired church musician and has lived in Decatur since 1999.