Every year at Christmas time, I buy a 6-pack of Dr. Pepper from the Dublin, Texas bottling plant. I buy the soda because it reminds me of my dad. He was raised on a farm in the community of Bunyan, Texas, which is seven miles outside of Dublin. His community was so small, that he was schooled in Dublin. When we would go to visit Meema and Pappa we would drive to Dublin, stop by the Dr. Pepper plant, and buy a soda. A Dublin Dr. Pepper is made with “Imperial Pure Cane Sugar”, and that is what makes it so special.
I loved to go and visit at the farm. The house was built by Pappa out of riverbed sandstone, and he had shaped the stone and mortar to spell the family name “WARD” at the front of the house. We would throw all the fishing tackle in the “turtle” (trunk) of the Rambler. Meema would punch the button into “Drive”, and we would haul off across the pasture to go fishing in the creek. When we got home, Meema would clean the fish, fry it up in a skillet, set out some garden tomatoes, and raw onion. She made sweet tea in big goblets.
My dad died in a tragic accident in the oil patch when I was fifteen, and was buried alongside Pappa in Green Creek Cemetery (a community cemetery predating the civil war). After we buried Daddy, my brother and I went back to the farm, hopped in his brand new 1970 Cutlass, and tore out over the pastures with “Born to Be Wild” by Steppenwolfe blaring from the car speakers. We came to a halt out in the midst of the potato field, and bawled our eyes out. That night, we walked down the dark, caliche road to the community grocery store. We listened as the widowed owner played Gospel songs on her Hammond organ, with her three-legged terrier howling the lead. We laughed our butts off.
Many years later, my mother gave me Daddy’s Bible. In the pages, I found his last Bible study. It was on the HEART. I sobbed. I struggled with my own heart, but I never knew that he struggled with his.
Today, when I bought the Dr. Pepper from the Dublin plant, I thought of my Dad, and I thought about Christ. He is our sweet sacrifice (sugar) and gives us a place in His royal lineage (Imperial). He fills all the chinks, sink holes, and crevices out of our souls, and helps us walk through both the dark roads and green pastures of life. Merry Christmas.