The Immortality of Ice Cream

My mother is in the hospital. There are signs of something dramatic going on but the doctors don’t know what’s wrong with her yet.

Mom and Dad, both active, vibrant 84 year-olds, have been living in south Florida for over twenty years, while my three sisters and brother all live in the northeast, too far to pop over for a hospital visit or bake a casserole or drag the garbage cans in or help put up the hurricane shutters.

We are organizing. Telephone calls, emails, mobile messages. Among the five of us, we have a surgical nurse, an Episcopal priest, a high level executive assistant, a business owner and a not-for-profit administrator who likes to write. We are intelligent, compassionate adults who care. We are figuring out what to do as the situation evolves and new pieces of information drift in.

After learning the latest development last evening, my first clear course of action was to go to the freezer and fill up a bowl with chocolate ice cream, drown it in butterscotch sauce, and eat the whole thing without stopping.

You laugh. It works.

Years ago, a friend of mine who was dying of cancer asked me to visit her. It would be our last time together. On the drive there, I wondered what we would talk about, though we were never short on topics, and often wandered into conversations about mysticism, spirituality, religion. We did not hesitate to laugh and be irreverent, despite her strict Catholic upbringing and lifetime involvement in the church. We did the same thing during our last hour together. We spoke of dying, of death and of “the other side.”

When I left her bedside, I took leave of her husband and adult daughter, got in my car, buckled my seatbelt, turned on the ignition, backed out of the driveway, and drove straight to Haagen Dasz and downed the biggest cup of mocha chip ice cream they had. After Rita’s funeral two weeks later, I did the same thing.

Ice cream is a kind of decompression chamber for the pain of mortality. I exercise, eat well, take my vitamins, get enough sleep. Conscious of keeping my weight down, I rarely treat myself to dessert, avoid sweets, eschew candy and junk food.

But I will not be leaving this world with a carrot stick in my mouth.

This entry was posted in Haagen Dasz ice cream, hospital, immortality, mom. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The Immortality of Ice Cream

  1. Hope mom’s going to be alright. You are so right about ice cream it is the cure for anything that ails you, especially in times of stress.

  2. Bevson says:

    I ate a large bowl of Breyers Dulce de Leche ice cream last night on your mom’s behalf. God Bless. I will hold you in the light as you fly to her side.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family .Forget valium ,xanax etc….we all scream for ice cream .And when that fails a little ” plunk ” will do nicely! Your parents will be so pleased to have you there . Suzanne

  4. Tom Burr says:

    Much prayer for your Mom! Actually, it doesn't take any crisis or emergency for me to walk across the street to a convenience store, pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry's and consume it in one sitting–but only about once a month. Such discipline!

  5. RevMomVt says:

    Carrot sticks be damned!! Give me super brownie fudge chunk!! And I like your description of family skills – we never sounded so good!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Hope your mom gets well. I have a big tub of ice cream in the freezer always and have a big spoonful every night to sweeten my day.

  7. MMH says:

    I wish your Mom well and wish all the family good days ahead. My mom and dad are both 91 and it’s tough going as they become frailer and frailer. And yes, ice cream is a great temporary fix. For us and for them. It gets served daily in their adult family home and we rush to our freezers after a visit.

  8. Lois says:

    Glad to hear Mom’s stabilized. We missed you last week. I’m glad to read your words about ice cream and hoping they will help me understand while I have been eating it all weekend!

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