My dad died on July 2, 2012.
While I wish I could say I was prepared for it – he’d been diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer* three years earlier – or that I could rationalize a purpose for it, I can’t. Rather, I find that I simply want to eat my weight in ice cream.
We, my dad and I, always had ice cream. My earliest memories are of bowls as big as my head loaded up with vanilla or chocolate. If we were feeling edgy, we might even opt for chocolate chip. Hey, it was the early 1970s.
On special holidays, my dad and I would find ourselves sitting in my grandma’s robin’s-egg-blue kitchen with my grandpa and uncle. The four of us delighted in drowning our ice cream in chocolate syrup or floating it in Coke-a-Cola, Sprite, and Orange Fanta.
We laughed, and joked, and prodded, and plotted, and talked, and talked, and talked. My dad and I believed that we solved most of the world’s problems over bowls and pints and gallons. Sometimes – when desperate times called for desperate measures and we couldn’t be bothered with conventions – we simply stood at the kitchen sink and passed the big container between us. When we’d get caught, we just exchanged a look and a snicker that said, “Oops! Oh, well.”
When I came home from college, I excitedly told Dad that I had something special for him. No, it wasn’t the post-college job he was praying for (and had paid for). My gift to him was Ben & Jerry’s Cherry Garcia. Momentarily he feigned disappointment. He rolled his eyes. He shook his head. Then he ate a spoonful of frozen joy. From that point on, there was no other.
Forays into different Ben & Jerry flavors left him vaguely disappointed.
Frozen yogurt was a sin.
Iced milk … well that was simply pure, unadulterated blasphemy.
I don’t remember a time that Dad and I didn’t enjoy ice cream together, which really just meant we were enjoying our time together. All I really want is more time. I’d trade all the ice cream for just five more minutes.
In the absence of time, however, I’ll keep my ice cream. It reminds me of my dad and the wonderful man he was. It reminds me that we were a pretty terrific father-daughter combination; we were two scoops of the same flavor. It reminds me of our sweet life together.
I’m going to need a lot of ice cream. I doubt my impending double-fisted ice-cream-eating bonanza will be pretty. But it will be comforting for me to Eat It, St. Louis!
*It didn’t have to happen to our family. It doesn’t have to happen to your family. Please, talk to your physician about your risk and a colonoscopy. It would have saved my dad’s life.