“Let’s go, everyone. They are closing in 30 minutes. Hurry up or we won’t make it in time.” My fifteen-year old self groans at my father’s voice. I pick at my comforter on my bed with my pencil and draw a little flower next to the quilted one.

“Alright, Dad. I am coming. What about Mom? Is she ready?” I yell back at my father even though a few feet separate my room and the living area.

“She’s ready. She is putting her shoes on. Your sister is standing next to the door.” My father’s voice carries and vibrates through the walls.

I slide into my jeans, slip my shirt over my head, and grab a sweater. It is November and in Texas that means it can get cold.

Despite the weather, it is Sunday. And that means we are all going to head to Braum’s Ice Cream. Sunday nights in our house always meant ice cream.

We all piled into the Topaz Toyota Tercel (a car that is considered beyond vintage these days). My father cranked up the radio. The sounds of Indian singers filled the car while we drove down our very American street. We passed my elementary school and the adjoining park, where a few brave soccer players kicked the ball around.

“What flavor do you want, Rudri?” My father always asked this question even though our orders rarely changed.

“You know, Dad, peppermint ice cream with a waffle cone.” I yelled so that he could hear me over the blaring Indian music.

We approach the drive-thru window. That was always our preference. The teenager recites her well-rehearsed speech, “Welcome to Braums, I am ready to take your order.”

“Yes. We want peppermint ice cream in a waffle cone. Pause. Butterscotch ice cream in a cup. Orange sherbet in a cone. And one last thing, chocolate ice cream in a cup. That’s all. Thank you.” My father also had rehearsed his order. It was the same order, every Sunday night, for so many years.

We would collect our respective ice creams and my father would park in one of the empty spaces. We licked our ice creams, listened to music, and talked about nothing at all. We were just an ordinary family eating ice cream in our car.

For many years, I never really understood the importance of this tradition. That’s the interesting thing about memories. As they are happening, we don’t understand how they ripple into the present. Lately, I’ve thought about those peppermint ice cream days and how the four of us did not have any imminent worries as we held our cones and cups, except for preventing the ice cream dripping onto the seat.

Those ice cream moments remind me of the good and simple times. When I am sometimes skirting the edge of my grief, I think about all the times that we enjoyed as a family. Lately, I long to replace those hard and agonizing days toward the end of my father’s life with a memory of how much goodness we shared.

The laughter. The tradition. The comfort. I remember, Dad. Peppermint ice cream makes me remember.

 

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