I Should Have Eaten Ice Cream


Icy Lakeshore Rocks

Maybe it’s the fact that this past week had more cloudy days than sunny hours.

Maybe it’s the adrenalin letdown from finishing my edits and sending them off to my editor last Monday.

Maybe I’ve reached my breaking point…

Last night in church I fought tears through the whole service—and trust me the service wasn’t worth the emotion. Honestly, I’ve felt this way since late Friday afternoon. Probably around 4 o’clock. I got a phone call and I wanted to skip back in time, a time when life didn’t pummel me on a regular basis. (You catching a bit of the pity-party me here?)

I flashed back to my grandmother’s kitchen. We had just finished scrubbing the floor. Now this was a pretty regular occurrence since my grandparents lived on a mink farm and no matter how often boots were scraped off, mud or snow or worse got tracked into the kitchen. Once we finished the floor and it dried, my job was to lay down newspapers in the areas which got the first tracks into the house. Those areas were simple. My grandfather and my uncle who wasn’t married yet would come in the back door, remove their boots on the thick rugs, remove their coats, head to the kitchen sink to wash up, then to the fridge to get carrots which they loved to snack on. So just inside back door, kitchen sink, fridge—those were the dirty catchers.

I always liked putting the comics section down in front of the fridge. And this day, I was bent over the funnies on my knees, my elbows on the floor while I sounded out the words in the quote balloons. (Of course, I didn’t know that’s what they were then.)

My grandmother heard me, then she slid down next to me. (I think she may have thought I was making up my one words as I was about 3-4 years-old then.) But I wasn’t making up the words. I was sounding them out and doing it correctly. Needless to say, that was a great celebration and the talk over lunch. I remember being very happy that I could do something that was a “big girl” thing. I may have started with the funnies page but I quickly was going to the library and getting books. By the time I started school I quickly moved into later grades for reading activities. But I’m sure that special time with my grandparents and uncle fueled my love of reading to this day.

It was also a time I had no worries. Life was simpler then—at least as I viewed it. And the memory of that special time in my life fortified me to get through the emotions that bubbled up after that phone call. And I’ll be honest; part of me wished I was that little girl again.

But I’m not. My grandparents had difficult times in their lives. So did my uncle, but their love of family, for their spouses, for their faith, helped them get through those times. To survive, to continue loving, to laugh.

I realized again later Friday afternoon and have been reminding myself constantly since then, I come from a family of survivors. I have many strengths. These will help me make the best decisions I can at any given moment. Yeah, I’m not perfect and in the first few minutes, I didn’t act with grace. For that I will have to make amends. But I’m not sorry for saying what I did because my words reflected my concerns and frustrations.

Homemade ice cream hits the spot

And that reminded me about my grandmother also. One summer in the 1930s their farm was hit by a fierce hailstorm, just as their crops were ready for harvest. All the crops were ruined by the huge hail. You didn’t by ice cream by the gallon at the grocery store then; you made it at home and ate it right away. My grandfather collected enough of the stones to make ice cream from some berries my grandmother and her daughter and nieces had picked a few days before. Lots of ice cream. But Gram never ate ice cream after that. So she took her frustration out that way. 🙂

That phone call concerned one of my sons. My reaction reinforced to me that while our children may grow up, make their own adult lives, and choose their own paths, in our eyes they are still our children. We will always be “mothers.” And we will be sad when bad things happen to them and we can do nothing to ease their pain. It’s a lesson to remember.

Have a good week.

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7 Comments on “I Should Have Eaten Ice Cream”

  1. Edie Ramer Says:

    MJ, I’m sending huge hugs out to you. In the midst of this turmoil, you’ve written an evocative blog. I admire you so much.

  2. caseyclifford Says:

    Oh Edie, thanks. I thrive on stress! 🙂 I guess…


  3. Great blog, Casey and I agree with Edie. Add my hug to hers and it’ll be a group hug full of love. I pray for the best for your son and know you’ll be there for him no matter what.

  4. caseyclifford Says:

    Thanks, Stacey, for stopping and adding a comment. Things always work out and writing is my way of dealing with frustration. 🙂

    I tried twice last night to post to your new blog which I’ve bookmarked; however, it doesn’t like me. 😦

  5. Deb Maher Says:

    Out of raw emotion comes stories. It is a gift all writers share. You have it in abundance, MJ, and we’re all richer for it.

    Sorry for the sadness. Yes, motherhood is a lifelong “blessing” both joyful and sorrowful, with a few other emotions tossed in to keep life interesting. I’ll join in the group hug. We all need one now and then. 🙂

  6. caseyclifford Says:

    Deb,

    Raw emotion, raw weather, raw life events. All are more easily handled with the support of friends and family. I am blessed. 🙂

  7. Cyndie Says:

    When I was a young girl/preteen/teen I would watch you mother your three boys – and I learned so much about mothering from you before I even wondered if I would have my own children to mother. And now you bring me another powerful lesson. I hope you are finding some peace – I am sure just your presence during his last days/hours was able to bring some ease to his pain.

    And I thank you with all my heart for sharing your stories with us. To get a glimpse of your girlhood and through your eyes keep thoughts of my Dad (your uncle!) alive is such a gift you give me when I read your blog!

    All my love through this difficult time,
    Cyndie


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