A beloved and cherished member of our family died this past Saturday. The time of his passing was 6:05 a.m. He was at our home, on the counter in the kitchen. He beeped four times, but never showed any other signs of life afterwards. Mr. Coffee had joined our family only two years earlier. He had been most dependable and hard working right up until the end. The night before he died, he brewed several cups of coffee for us. While we had spent quite a bit of time together during those two years, we had hoped for so much more. If I’ve seemed a little irritable lately, it’s because I haven’t had coffee.

I have such fond memories of the times Mr. Coffee and I spent together. Some of them are rather humorous, such as the time I forgot how many spoons of coffee I had added. I usually put in five tablespoons of coffee for ten cups of water. I might add that my scoops are usually not level. I like strong coffee. That probably comes from my seminary days, when we lived in New Orleans. They drink powerfully strong coffee down there. They also eat crawfish and alligator, which have nothing to do with this story, but I wanted to say that. They even add chicory to it, which makes it even stronger (the coffee, not the crawfish and gator).They test the strength of their coffee by stirring it with a spoon and then turning the spoon loose in the middle of the cup. If it falls to one side, it is too weak, but if it stands up on its own, it is just right. If it eats the end of the spoon off, then it is too strong for consumption but small amounts may be used to dissolve kidney-stones.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, I was adding coffee. Somewhere between scoops two and five, my phone rang. It was some guy with a middle-eastern accent, informing me of fraudulent activity on my social security card. Dummy me; I didn’t even know I could have activity on my social security card. He advised me to call the number he gave, before the sheriff came to arrest me and put me in jail for the rest of my natural born life. He had me so upset I couldn’t remember how many scoops of coffee I had added, so I added five more. Then the doorbell rang. It was a home-security system salesman with Girl Scout cookies. I bought three boxes and added three more scoops of coffee. Soon afterwards, Jean came in and asked, “Is the coffee not ready?” I answered, “Just as soon as I add three more scoops of coffee.”

I poured her a cup. It looked like blackstrap molasses. She added some honey and stirred it up. It ate the spoon…handle and all. She downed two cups of that stuff, coughed, opened her eyes widely, then shot to her feet and bolted out the door. She cut the grass with a push-mower, ran the weed-eater in our yard, as well as the neighbor’s, washed the cars, the cat, and the dogs, before she ran back in and asked, “You want me to whip up some breakfast right quick?”

Of course, you know all of that didn’t really happen, but Mr. Coffee did indeed bite the dust. I’m about to head to Walmart, with my Social-Security card, to buy a new one. It is true that nothing last forever and neither will we, at least not in this present body. Most of us have probably experienced the hurt and sadness of losing loved ones, so please do not think I am making light of death. I am reminded that coffee-makers and material things can be replaced but people cannot.

— Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit brobillybob.com for more information.

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