Her father, the third son of a military man; her mother, the second daughter of a teacher and a farmer. Her father’s very bright career took their little family all over the United States. Her mother, obsessed with appropriate nutrition, the Montessori method, the best preparatory schools, Spanish, Violin, Piano, Golf, Tennis, French, Latin.
Always pushing, always thinking of the future, preparing, competing, reaching for as many horizons as possible. But how to give this quiet, shy, only child a sense of her past? Of her family?
By going over a river and through some woods, for a Coca-Cola.
During a visit, the quiet, shy city girl, was given an ice-cold Coke in a glass bottle. Her grandfather was at the factory, now that his children were grown and gone, and the farm was just too much work. In the instant reaction of his rarely seen granddaughter, he knew he’d hit on something.
And so it was, every year, every visit, he’d be sure to have two bottles of Coca-Cola in the freezer, waiting just for her. She never had the courage to ask about them, and always tried -failing miserably- to hide her excitement, and not peek a glance at the freezer when the door happened to open.
As dinner came to an end, and the dishes were being cleared away, he’d get to his feet, go into the kitchen, rummage a bit in the freezer, prolonging the suspense, wondering just loudly enough if he’d remembered to bring some home.
Then, he’d come back to the table, two bottles in hand, pop their caps, and nod towards the front door. They’d slip away from the familial hubbub and chatter, and go out on the front porch to sit side by side on the big swing, sipping their Cokes together. He’d bend his knees just enough to push the swing, her legs would dangle over the edge. The sun would be setting, the mosquitoes buzzing, the crickets chattering. And there’d be the two of them, rocking lazily on the swing. No need to talk, as the oppressively humid North Florida evening gave way mercifully to a warm summer night. They’d sip, and rock, sip and rock, the cool glasses sweating fat beads into their hands.
And all would be perfect and right and just in the world.