My dad was a drinking man. He loved his liquid refreshment. Nothing in his book could be better than a cold glass of water on a hot summer day when he was out working in the yard. Better yet was some of my mom's homemade iced tea with lemon and sugar. To him, either one just hit the spot and was the strongest stuff he ever needed to get by, except his morning coffee.
My dad also loved to work outside. Having a good size property and house to maintain, he had quite a bit outside to do in the summertime when I was growing up. I can remember certain rituals and routines he had for times like that, and one of them was re-using the same drinking cup over and over again throughout the day. "Margie", he'd say to my mom, "Just leave my glass in the windowsill there over the kitchen sink. No need to wash it yet - I'll use that one for today."
As the day progressed, he'd stop in the kitchen from time to time, quite hot and sweaty from an outside chore. He'd get his water, drink it down, put the cup back on the windowsill and head immediately back out to finish something he had no doubt been in the middle of doing when his thirst had gotten the best of him. This, of course, would go on until he declared himself through for the day and my mom knew it was safe to wash what he'd used and put it away for next time.
Fast forward 30 years. I live in the house where I grew up. Just the other day my 21 year old son was taking a break from mowing the lawn and walked in while I was washing dishes at that same kitchen sink. He pulled a lime green plastic cup from the kitchen cabinet, drank a long, tall glass of water and reached in front of me to put the cup on the windowsill. "You can just leave that there", he told me. "No need to wash it; I'll just use that one for today."
As he walked back out to finish mowing, I found myself with my hands still in the soapy dishwater staring at the cup he'd put in front of me. The familiarity of what had just transpired fixed me to my spot and I was in awe. Only I would have realized that my son had repeated the exact same simple act that my father used to do. Do family habits skip a generation? Did I have something in my DNA that passed on the same propensity for male members of the household to save a water glass til the day's work was done? I surely don't know, but I loved savoring the moment.
I heard the lawn mower start up again and it swiftly brought me back to reality. My son was the one on the mower now; my dad was a wonderful memory. But a sweet happening had just occured to break through the barrier of time and bring those two together in the same spot at the same time, and to show me that sometimes life's best surprises come not in big displays of grandeur, but in little unexpected moments of familiarity that can make you smile and completely warm your soul.