On ice cream as a respite to a busy world

Our family is fond of telling a story of the time we ran into my grandfather at a supermarket car park when my siblings and I were much younger.

My grandfather – a man of high standing in the community, of amazing virtue, and of deep wisdom – was loitering near the indoor car park entrance, eating an ice cream, while waiting for my grandmother.

When he saw us, he looked slightly guilty and awkwardly asked us not to tell our grandmother that he was eating ice cream. By any stretch, it was a comical moment.

Predictably, once we got to the top of the stairs, we ran into my grandmother. Immediately, my brother, all of 5 or 6 at the time, told my grandmother that our grandfather was downstairs eating an ice cream.

For many years, the funny part of this story was that my brother ratted out my grandfather nearly immediately. That remains funny.

But as I’ve got older, and time has passed, the story has taken on other dimensions, at least to me.

The story now reminds me that my grandfather who was (and is), in many ways, super-human, was also human. And the human simply wanted a quiet moment with a simple pleasure.

The story now reminds me that, in lives devoted to finding meaning and giving it to others, sometimes we need these moments of banality.

The story now reminds me that sometimes we need to eat our ice cream as a quiet respite to a busy world.

And the story now reminds me that sometimes we need to be caught, to the delight of our grandchildren, doing something slightly naughty.

I wonder what else this story will remind me of in another 20 years.

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