The Taste of Love

“I love ice cream.” Big scoops, little scoops – many scoops. In a bowl, in a cone, or, if the half-gallon container is almost empty, straight out of the carton (Sorry, Mom, I know you raised me better). I don’t discriminate against any flavors; I like them all. Ice cream by itself or smothered with toppings – either is great. Heck, one can even mix in a banana or throw me an ice cream sandwich. I love ice cream!

Okay, I actually like ice cream – a lot – but I don’t love it. My wife, Mattie, and I have taught our 12-year-old daughter, Jessie, “We love people, not things.” One of the most-loved people for many of us is Mom. Between the comfort of ice cream and a mother’s love, the choice is obvious. Ice cream melts deliciously, yet quickly, on one’s taste buds and then is gone (except when it lingers, unwelcome, on the waistline). In contrast, a mother’s love lasts forever, and, like ice cream, is something we crave when we don’t feel well.

When Jessie was two years old, the two of us traveled to visit my parents. Apparently, a spider bit me during my sleep. As I looked at my swollen lip in the bathroom mirror, I had a minor anxiety attack. At 2 a.m., I opted to wake my mother, even though my dad drove the ambulance for the volunteer fire company and had more medical knowledge. I’ll never forget the laughter Mom and I shared over the next hour.

I’ll always remember, too, the day 7-year-old Jessie crashed her bike in our driveway, knocking out a loose baby tooth. I immediately assessed the situation, told her she was okay, and handed her my clean handkerchief to wipe her lip. Yet, when I got my crying daughter into the house, she immediately removed my bloody hanky from her mouth and exclaimed, “I want my momma!” To my amazement, a few seconds after she spoke with Momma at work, Jessie’s smile returned as if nothing had happened.

Recently, Jessie’s momma needed her own mom. Doctors found a tumor near my wife’s left ear. Luckily, the tumor was benign. However, due to its location near facial nerves, the surgery would become even more complex if it continued to grow, so it needed to come out. Mattie found a doctor who specializes in the procedure about 1,000 miles away. Her mother not only volunteered to go with her, but campaigned to make the trip and stay with her throughout the surgery and recovery. I stayed behind to take care of Jessie.

Was I disappointed Mattie chose her mom over me? No; I knew her mom would do everything in her power to care for Mattie. She’d interrogate the doctor before the surgery, estimated to take three hours. She’d provide periodic updates to me. Heck, she’d even run into the operating room and dive on the scalpel if that’s what it took to protect her baby.

Mattie’s mom called at 8:15 a.m. to report the surgery had begun. About two hours into the operation, she sent a text, “They said everything is going fine but the operation is still continuing.” At 11:46 a.m., 3 ½ hours into the operation, I texted, “No word yet? It’s time for it to be over!”

Mattie’s mom texted right back, “I’m thinking it has been too long.”

I responded, “Yes, it has been too long. Let’s try to keep calm. So far, I’ve had a Ho Ho [a chocolate cake with cream filling], a strawberry cream cheese cookie, and a Mr. Goodbar. Ice cream is next!”

Why was the surgery taking so long? All kinds of worries raced through my brain. At 12:13 p.m., Mattie’s mom called to say the doctor met with her and the surgery went well. She slept at the hospital with Mattie that night and cared for her at a nearby hotel the entire week until her follow-up doctor appointment.

Most of us could think of countless other “Mom to the rescue” stories. It’s probably a good idea to thank them now and then.

Ice cream might make the world a sweeter place, at least for a few minutes, but the mother-child bond is forever. Mothers come in a variety of brands, such as Grandmother, Mother-in-Law, and Like-A-Mother. All of them serve love in lots of flavors – “hugs and kisses,” “listening and advice,” and “home cooking” are three of my favorites.

Until next month, remember to cherish the moments. Happy Mother’s Day!

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