Dr. Pepper and the Human Heart

My dad is the little guy in front. His sister Jewel, and brother Pete are in back. Meema was 48 when she had my dad.

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.


  1. Posted December 23, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    Oh, wow! I was totally caught off guard (in a good way!) by this post — I’m a relatively new reader and didn’t realize that you write as beautifully as you paint. Thank you for sharing this touching reflection. It brought tears to my eyes.

    (a fellow Austinite)

    • Posted December 24, 2009 at 8:15 am | Permalink

      Hi, Jen.

      Thank you for saying that. Writing is difficult for me – I made D’s in school (no kidding).
      We should meet, don’t you think? 🙂
      I hope that your family has a wonderful Christmas.


  2. Posted December 24, 2009 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    That is a great story. I’ll be thinking about what you wrote the next time I enjoy a Dublin Dr. Pepper.

  3. Posted December 25, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Permalink

    What a beautiful Christmas story and so wonderfully written.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Merry Christmas, Lavanna.

  4. Hermin
    Posted December 31, 2009 at 8:32 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the wonderfull Christmas story. Very sweet and powerful.
    We met at the Bob Bullock museum one night when I was doing a Casino party there. I have since followed your website to see your pictures and comments. Thanks for sharing.


    • Posted December 31, 2009 at 8:42 am | Permalink

      Hi, Hermin.

      Yes, I certainly remember you! I hope that you will be prosperous and healthy in this coming year. I am sure that you will be very busy with your casino business tonight!


  5. Adam
    Posted January 4, 2010 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    I love this. Thank you Lavanna!

  6. Barb
    Posted January 6, 2010 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Beautiful, and so true. I could see (and feel) your experiences as clearly as any painting.
    Thank you for sharing.

  7. Posted January 7, 2010 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    Amazing post. Thanks for sharing such an intimate memory with all of us.

  8. Larry
    Posted January 18, 2010 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    Your word pictures are as good as your paintings…

    Thanks and have a wonderful year in 2010


    • Posted January 19, 2010 at 7:42 am | Permalink

      Hi, Larry.

      Thanks for stopping by, and thanks for the nice comment. I made C’s and D’s on all of my English papers in school.

      Have a wonderful year in 2010, also? Shouldn’t we?


  9. Posted January 21, 2010 at 10:47 pm | Permalink

    Aaaah Lavanna,
    Dr. Pepper and Memories. When I moved from Oklahoma to Oregon 20 years ago, I had a hard time finding Dr. Pepper at any of the fast food places. This was a Pepsi/Coke region.

    No one understood why Mr. Pibb was such a feeble substitute. It wasn’t just because of the taste. It was the memories of sweltering days and icy coolers that clanked and complained at the grocery store.

    It was how a Dr. Pepper could heal a hurt, catch a tear, or share a secret. It was how Sonic could make cherry-vanilla-lime Dr. Peppers. (Sonics are just now making it into the NW).

    It is childhood, bottled, preserved and opening a secret place in my heart as soon as the cap is popped. Aaaaah

    Thanks for sharing your gifts. It opens up the secret rooms of our hearts that search other’s lives and wants to share the best with them.
    Blessings for speaking your tender beliefs.

    • Posted January 22, 2010 at 1:12 pm | Permalink

      Hi, Barb.

      I just left you a comment over at your blog, barbfroman.wordpress.com


  10. Posted January 25, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    After this, I can sincerely say, that I came for the paintings, but I’m staying for the heart. Terrific! Thanks for sharing!

  11. carolina
    Posted June 1, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink


    Have been a year in Austin, my dad loved to paint but later in his life he stopped. He loved Bach, Vivaldi too…
    Your story was so good, got emotional over my dad. And your paintings are awesome, I like the one in Cafe Caffeine, how can you purchase them?
    Never been to those cafes in south austin… need to go, I love coffee.
    Have a good summer!

  12. Posted December 19, 2010 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    It’s not fair. Now I have the same problems you had visiting my site.
    I wish you a happy new year

  13. Posted January 21, 2011 at 7:53 am | Permalink

    bitter-sweet memories
    revealers of truth
    thanks for sharing
    this touching story
    of your youth

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