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In 2005 my son was married. His wedding was in Canton, Ohio. I drove from Chapel Hill, NC to attend and my brother flew in from Modesto , Ca. It was a special time not only because of my son's wedding, but also because I was able to spend time with my brother. We were both football fans and it so happened that the Football Hall of Fame is located in Canton. The wedding was on Saturday night. My son left on his honeymoon that night. The next day after my sister had left for Florida, my brother, his grown daughter and I went to the Football Hall of Fame. That particular Sunday also happened to be Father's Day.
As we approached the entrance we saw a stand that was giving away coffee cups with a little packet of coffee to promote the coffee. The cups were free to any child who accompanied their father on that particular day. My niece promptly went up and got a cup for my brother. On one side of the cup Football Hall of Fame was inscribed. On the other side was the date and the inscription "Happy Father's Day".
We toured the Football Hall of Fame and had a great time: all three of us because my brothers 20 year old daughter was a football fan as well. It took a few hours. We were in the car and had started to leave when my niece said"Stop the car I want to get Uncle Richard a coffee cup." She went back and got me a cup which really meant a lot to me. We took his daughter to the airport and bade our farewells. That night my brother and I went out to dinner and had a really great time;, just the two of us. We said our goodbyes that night because I was going to get up at 4am and drive back to North Carolina. My brother's plane did not leave until 9am. the next day.
I drove home , put my coffee cup in the cupboard and didn't think much of it until football season started. Every Sunday morning I would get up and always have coffee in that cup and considered the habit a good luck charm for my fantasy football teams. It was a fun and joyous ritual.
Early in October I got off work around 11:30 Pm. when I checked my cell phone I found a message from my sister asking me to call her as soon as possible. This was very unusual because my sister always went to bed around 9pm. Thankfully I waited until I got home before I called her. When I called she told me that my brother had died suddenly. I was devastated.
After I got back home from his service on the following Sunday I automatically reached for that special cup. This time a whole new meaning was wrapped around it; the memory of the last time I saw my brother and our mutual love for football.
The value of that cup for me now is priceless. I am so thankful to my niece for going back and getting a cup for me. She didn't know it at the time but she gave me one of the greatest gifts I have ever received. Where I used to see a good memory I now see my love for my brother; all the great times we had, all the love I felt for him and the pain of knowing that he was gone forever. My brother was ten years older than me and there were times he seemed like a father. When I became an adult the equal ground we stood on provided a new relationship of respect, love, and lots of laughter. It always made me feel so great if he thought something I said was funny. It always made me feel so great that he was my brother and that he loved me. In our relationship he was the one that always looked out for me. he taught me many things not just by imparting knowledge, but in the example as to how he lived.
Now during football season, I get up and pour my coffee into that cup and see the memories rising with the steam from the coffee. It is just a cup; a thing if you will. A porcelain keeper of the many days with my brother including the last day I saw him.