Every year on this day, we post this picture in honor of my Dad, as today would have been Dad’s birthday, and this is my favorite picture of Dad and Chris together. However, outside of my family, I’ve never shared the true reason as to why this picture – in particular – means so much to me.
Obviously, it shows a meaningful moment of their favorite time of day together (Popsicle time on the couch). But for me – this picture is a reminder of one of the single most powerful lessons I ever learned… as it came from my Dad…it involved ice cream… and it is forever etched in my memory.
I was about 5 years old when it happened, but I remember it like it was yesterday. Dad had taken our family to a local convenience store to get ice cream. I still remember everything about it… the location, the sounds, the smells, the surroundings… everything. (Upon revisiting my childhood home as an adult – I have intentionally visited this store every time I’ve returned – due to the significance it had that night a very long time ago.)
Dad went into the store to get everything for us, while we waited excitedly in the car. Upon his return, he proceeded to pass out everyone’s ice cream, and I received my large scoop in a cone. It was at that point that I… started to complain. I began to get really upset, as I was mad that I didn’t get 2 scoops with chocolate syrup or something on top. And once I started with my “disgust,” I poured it on big time… whining, fussing, pouting. I was “all in” in going for and demanding more!
It was at that time, that my Dad – while eating his own single scoop ice cream cone – calmly reached into the back seat, and took my ice cream (to which I was sure he was going to finally go back inside the store to “fix the problem”).
However, I then watched through the window as he…. got out of the car… walked slowly over to the trash can… and threw my ice cream cone away. He then proceeded to walk calmly back to the car – where he sat back down in the front seat, and he and Mom looked straight ahead, and continued to enjoy their ice cream cones… as if nothing had ever happened. Needless to say, I was stunned, I was shocked, I was devastated, and I cried until we got home.
But most importantly… I learned.
He did not yell. He did not scream. He did not count to 3 or put me in time out. He did not give me a lecture about how difficult it was for he and Mom to pull that out of their weekly budget during those very challenging times. He did not lecture me about how hard his work week had been or how much sleep he and Mom had lost that week caring for Chris and running the roads to the hospital. He didn’t even say one single word. But he didn’t have to, because his actions spoke louder than any words he could have possibly said.
In a blink of an eye, I immediately and profoundly learned… that perhaps instead of complaining and wanting more… I should be very appreciative of what I have.
My Dad proceeded through life to give our family significantly more than we could have ever wanted or needed. He was – like my Mom – the most sacrificial, and most giving person I ever knew.
And as I’ve grown older, with that moment in time etched in my memory, I often wonder if our daily lives aren’t much different than that vivid night at the ice cream store nearly 45 years ago – Perhaps instead of complaining about what we don’t have… maybe we should spend a little more time appreciating the ice cream cones in our lives that we do have… before they are gone.
That’s why I love this picture. Dad is sharing tiny pieces of his ice cream with his son (who has a legitimate argument for complaining about what he doesn’t have) but who instead…. appreciates not only the ice cream, but the time together as well.
I loved my Dad and Chris when they were here, but it wasn’t until they were gone that I truly realized….that from a brother and from a father standpoint…. I had the double scoops with chocolate syrup.
May we all be a little more thankful for our ice cream cones.