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One of the kindest and most supportive things anyone has ever said to me is this: “There are times in life when it is ok to eat ice cream twice a day.” These words were spoken by my personal-trainer-turned-good-friend, Rob. I submit a food diary to him every week, and so he knows I love ice cream, and that I eat it daily. With my otherwise healthy eating habits, he is not only ok with this, he encourages it. His empathic prompt to eat more ice cream came in 2010 as my beloved father was dying in hospice care.
And speaking of eating ice cream twice a day, my friend, Vera, sometimes wanted to do so in recent pre-coronavirus days. Back then, she was the planner of weekly movie dates every Thursday. Depending on the time we needed to be at the theater, we would have lunch before or ice cream after. Sometimes we could do both. But if we had lunch at a restaurant that offered free ice cream for dessert – I’m talking about you, Jason’s Deli – I was unwilling to eat ice cream after the movie as well. Foolish me! There are times in life when it is ok to eat ice cream twice a day and savoring special times with special friends is one of those times.
Of course, I only realize this now because of the clearer vision afforded me due to the pandemic. Working out with Rob. Even turning in a food diary! Going to see movies. Eating in restaurants and ice cream parlors. Indeed, being with friends up close and personal. Who knew these activities were so very special?
I do now. Now that they are gone.
As we manage the losses brought to us by COVID-19, it is important to cherish those things we still have. In my case, taste buds that work, a love of ice cream, and many fond and poignant memories of eating it with loved ones pre-coronavirus. These stories come to mind:
- Vera and I see the same allergist on the same schedule, every three months. We book back-to-back appointments with Dr. Ahmad, and then go eat Graeter’s Ice Cream after. It’s a medical fact that being with Vera is as good for my health as my prescription for Montelukast.
- My brother is a very cool guy, and I try to impress him when he comes to town. Once I took him to Graeter’s, known for their often-huge chocolate chips, and was thrilled when he “complained” they had neglected to add ice cream to his chips.
- My grandson, Dylan, six years old at the time, wanted to have a date with me, so we went out for ice cream to Rhinos, a place known for toppings galore. As he worked on his enormous sundae, he told me the pros and cons of being the middle child in his family. I can’t imagine ANY setting for such a lengthy heart-to-heart with a child, but Rhinos provided it, and I am grateful.
- My neighbor, Margot, and I used to go to the library book club the last Monday of every month. Afterwards, we went to United Dairy Farmers for ice cream. When we tired of the book club, we jettisoned it, while continuing the monthly date for dessert. Margot is 17 years older than I am, and I think of her as my motherhood-mentor. As she talks about her adult kids, I feel like I am getting “previews of coming attractions,” making this a night of ice cream with wisdom galore sprinkled on top.
- My lifelong friend, Roberta, and I met up in New York for a weekend. Walking back to our hotel one night after the theater, we decided we wanted ice cream. Standing near an intersection, we Googled, “ice cream near me,” and were instructed to turn left immediately and go twenty feet to reach our destination, Ben & Jerry’s!
- Here’s a childhood memory with this same wonderful Roberta person – her uncle going to Velvet Freeze and bringing us carry out banana splits. Louis IX French Pecan was my favorite flavor there. I have forgotten so much at age 68, but not Louis IX French Pecan ice cream.
- My boy-friend-person, Big Irv, now deceased, loved ice cream too. We went to Dairy Queen so often together that the young clerks knew and started to prepare our order when they saw us getting out of the car in the parking lot. Hot fudge sundae with extra hot fudge for him. A cup of vanilla ice cream with heavy pecans for me. Oh, how I miss that, Irv. (And oh, how I miss that Irv.)
- Also on a melancholy note, let’s talk about my mom. She was an ice cream lover too, but didn’t indulge often because she was a lifelong dieter. As she lay in a hospital bed dying of cancer, I had the idea to feed her ice cream. Was she allowed to eat it? I asked the doctor. He bellowed, “Rose can have anything she wants!” And so, on her death bed, Mom had ice cream.
As we navigate our many losses due to the pandemic, we can’t exactly have “anything [we] want!” but there is still a lot we can have. At the top of the list is the enjoyment of simple pleasures. For me that means eating ice cream. Maybe even twice a day.
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