A Tale of Two Coffee Cups
The cup on the left is my favorite coffee cup. At first glance it’s not a remarkable cup. It doesn’t have some pithy saying on it like, “World’s Greatest Dad.” It doesn’t have a sports team logo on it. It’s not insulated, so it doesn’t retain heat. If you were to inspect it, you would discover imperfections in both the ceramic and the glaze. I have other coffee cups that hold more coffee. But this one holds the most sentimental value.
Several years ago, Lady Debby and I vacationed in France. One day as we were traveling from Saint-Brieuc to Rochefort-en-Terre, we came across a village called Josselin. The medieval Castle of Josselin, which sits on the banks of the L’Oust River, is the village’s main attraction. It is quite spectacular. Although Josselin was not on our itinerary, we decided to spend an hour sightseeing. The village has one main street of shops. One of the shops was a pottery store that had recently opened. There were several shelves of coffee cups. Difference sizes. Different styles. Different color glazes. The owners of the shop were also the potters. They were very friendly and we spent more time in that shop than we had planned. It didn’t seem right to leave without contributing to the success of their business. So I decided to purchase a coffee cup. I picked this one because it seemed like it wanted to go home with me. I can’t explain that. But it did. I paid 5 Euros for the cup. They entombed it in bubble wrap, and it survived the rest of the trip and the flight back to the States.
I find it interesting that some of our most treasured keepsakes have little-to-no value to anyone except us. And it’s usually because there was a story that came with it. An experience. A memory.
The cup on the right was my father’s favorite coffee cup. He picked it up at one of the many street fairs that he and my mother would go to. Like me, he had other coffee cup options in his cupboard, but this was always his first choice. I asked him one time why that particular cup was his favorite. He liked the size (he was never a “Venti” size coffee drinker), and the way it felt in his hand.
My dad passed away several years ago. It was, and still is a very difficult adjustment for me. If I had not intervened, my dad’s favorite coffee cup would have been placed in a box and donated to Goodwill. It now lives in my den. But it is no longer a coffee cup. It is a treasured keepsake.
Aside from writing, my other passion is photography. Quite often, when my wife and I returned home from one of our travels, I would take my iPad over to my parent’s house, and show my father all the photographs I had taken on that particular trip. My mother would spend a few minutes with us, but she would never stay for very long. She viewed these more of a father/son bonding experiences. As my dad got older, and his health issues mounted, he looked forward to these presentations even more. Usually these visits included coffee. I would get to choose from any cup in the cupboard, including his favorite. But I always selected a different one. After Lady Debby and I returned from our trip to France, my iPad and I made our post-trip pilgrimage to my parent’s house. But this time I brought something else with me. My new coffee cup from France.
As I get older, I find myself placing far more value on experiences and much less value on acquisitions. My favorite coffee cup is a great illustration of that. This seemingly insignificant purchase has paid off in two very memorable experiences that I find myself revisiting every time I pour coffee into it. The first was an unplanned, unexpected visit to a wonderful, picturesque village in France. The second, even far more memorable than the first, was sitting down with my father at his dining room table, drinking coffee from our favorite cups, and sharing my photographs and experiences with him.