Yesterday evening at the meal we take the drinks to each Sunday at Daybreak, our friends supplied and served the dessert. The joy in being with our friends at this place that means so much to us, with folks we have come to love as family–that’s the good stuff of life right there. The joy and giggles overflowed.
As it was Memorial Day weekend, it was decided that a special treat was in order–Ice Cream Sandwiches. It was a couple of years ago that one of my friends had the idea to take them for dessert on a hot Sunday night, and they were the hit of the night. Last night as I looked around at the smiles on faces and the messy fingers with chocolate wafer clinging to them, I thought of our own ice cream sandwich memories.
We had them growing up as a special treat, but I really love that they were the “thing” my children enjoyed at “Maemae and Cap’s” house. Mama would pull one out and peel the paper back about halfway down, so they had something to hold onto and could still eat it. Then she’d finish peeling it for each child, when he or she reached the paper. When Daddy was still able to go outside easily, we’d take them out and eat them on the swings under the tree in the summer heat. When my little guy was much smaller, I wouldn’t get my own. I would wait until he hit the halfway mark and was full, and I’d finish his off. It seemed all the sweeter. When he reached the point of only giving me the last bite, I decided I’d better start getting my own. They are one of the foods that just taste like summer to me.
When my friend first brought them two years ago when we still gathered outside at the park, I remember several of our friends there were overjoyed to have them and did not hesitate to say so. But it was Mr. U who especially touched my heart. He and his wife seemed to live in their car–we were never quite sure. He had a hard time walking, so in harsh weather, we’d take his meal to him in the car. But that day, he had gotten out and was eating in a chair under the big tree with many others. He pulled my friend aside, and told her how much the taste of that ice cream sandwich reminded him of his own growing up. The sheer joy on his face, his eyes lit up with remembering–that’s something I won’t soon forget.
Last night another volunteer and I were remembering him. Mr. U died some time a few months after that day. I miss his smile and his stories. He loved to share his stories with anyone who would listen. I know he would have been smiling about those ice cream sandwiches last night, and sharing stories, but not before finishing his slowly melting treat.
Today I remember him. And others who have left this world. Left it a little better, a little stronger, and a little sadder because of their absence. And I think I will toast their memories with an ice cream sandwich of my own. Joyful remembering to you all…..