It all started with ice cream.
It was like…1972, maybe, on a whimsical summer day when the obvious thing to do was eat dinner outside and then sit around on the deck afterward, doing nothing. My parents had been plugging away at their backyard project, which was a waterfall/fish pond the size of a wading pool. Because, in fact, it was a wading pool. Dad had wrapped chicken wire around it and then stuffed peat moss into the chicken wire holes. It covered the bright blue plastic sufficiently, and looked for all the world like a bubbling spring. Mom stayed busy planting tiny tufts of purple alyssum around it. Then they’d arranged and rearranged and re-rearranged some flat rocks where the pumped, running water splashed melodiously into the little pool. For all the work that went into it, they might as well have made the pond a hundred times bigger. But it had turned out so nice; we were all pleased with the results.
So at the end of our dinner this particular June evening, Dad stretched his arms into the air and said, “What day is it today? Is it a holiday or anything?” We reported the date to him. Nothing special. “Well,” he said, “this day only comes once a year. I think we all need to go down and get some ice cream to celebrate!”
Our favorite place was called Big Scoop. For obvious reasons. Can’t tell you if I really loved the flavor of Asphalt Ice Cream so much, or if I always ordered it because Dad’s reaction was so dumbfounded, watching me lick black licorice ice cream off the cone. His preference was predictably something with nuts–butter pecan, maple nut, pralines n’cream. He remained an ice cream fan his entire–and way too short–life.
So…yesterday was Dad’s birthday. Remember, he died last month? Yeah. So we conjured up a way to brighten what would undoubtedly be a difficult day. See? That’s our mother in the middle of grandkids, eating ice cream in honor of Dad. It gets even better. She’s got dozens of grandkids and great-grandkids. And we’re all over the world! Anticipating this day ahead of time, we dreamed up the idea for each of us to take a photo of ourselves eating ice cream on April 26, and text it to our mother/grandmother. No words necessary. We planned it all out, sent secret reminders, made sure everyone had Mama’s phone number. Then one by one, it got started. First me, then another, then another. My nephew somewhere mysterious in the Army. My niece helping prevent ISIS recruits in Amman, Jordan. So many locations were represented…Montana, California, Arizona, Utah, Nevada, New York, Idaho, Texas, Nebraska, North Carolina…maybe even the missionaries in Illinois and Paraguay. I don’t even know how many places!
Right about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, Mom sent a text out to all of us kids with a giant smiling emoji. She said she thought it was the strangest thing that her ice-cream-consuming posterity kept sending pictures of themselves eating! “It’s a conspiracy, Mom!” my sister wrote back. Well, as you can see from the photo above, by the end of the night, Mama was all smiles. It felt terrific for all of us! Cohesive, connected, and celebratory as we honored a life well-lived. Thought you all might like to hear about that. Definitely a Heart Hinge kind of day!
And…just wait til fall. Little does Mama know what great stuff we’ve got cooked up for our family reunion! Bahaha!