I stood in the aisle of Galco's Old World Grocery trying not to cry. It's not every day a soda standing on the shelf in a grocery store can reduce me to tears, but when my son pointed out the Grapette, well, I pretty much lost it in the store.
The owner of the store came up and looked at me. "Grapette?" he said. I nodded. "This is the good stuff, not the kind from Walmart. You gotta go to Guatemala for this. They are the only ones who have the original formula now."
I stood there and picked up one of the bottles, feeling the way it fit into my hand and my mind went back to a hot July day in Kansas when I was six.
My father was a busy farmer and didn't have much time to spend with me, his fifth daughter, especially during the prime daylight hours. However, on this day he let me ride the three miles to town with him on the tractor.
The John Deere pop-popped down the rock road, then turned on the paved road into town. Cars passed us occasionally and meadowlarks flew overheard. I did not envy either. I wanted the ride to last forever. I was riding high, perched on the front of the plywood board that made up the seat of the tractor. My father sat behind me, his strong hands on the black steering wheel.
Once in town, we got down off the seat and went to the pop machine in front of the lumber yard. I rarely got soda so I was amazed when Daddy slid the quarter into the machine, opened the small side door and pulled out that bottle of Grapette. Using the bottle cap opener on the machine, he popped off the lid and handed me the slick, ice cold bottle.
I did not realize it then, but now I think I can safely say that no drink in the world, either before that moment or after that moment ever tasted as good as that one. It was not the sweetness of the drink as much as the sweetness of the moment.
I was safe. I was on a grand adventure. I was with my daddy.
As I stood there in the store, holding that bottle, Brian was across the store, holding a bottle of Green River, a drink his father used to buy for him as a treat. Needless to say, when we left the store, we had our treasures.
Yesterday on the patio, we opened them up, breathed in the smell and then sipped the sweetness.
It all came back--all of it--retrieved from the distant past. We sat, side-by-side, each in our own lovely bubble of memory, smiling, feeling lucky and grateful and maybe, just maybe, a little melancholy too.
Cheers to all.