Posts Tagged With: The Red Dress Club

Peppermint Ice Cream Love

Some events happen so many times they become more of an amalgamation of memories, rather than actual singular episodes. They become the stuff of legends and no matter what actually happened, it plays the same in my head. I can’t differentiate one experience from another, I remember them all the same way.

I was a princess riding in the back of my grandparents red Chrysler. It was such a big old car and I was so tiny to have the whole backseat to myself. The seats were vinyl and my little girl legs always stuck to it. But I didn’t care, I was the the most important one riding through town, with my grandfather at the wheel.

Looking back, I realize this was the time-frame in which my grandmother started to get sick.  Of course, my 8 year old self didn’t see it or least I didn’t understand it. But my grandparents would take me out to eat anytime I stayed with them and they always took me to the same restaurant.


An odd name for a restaurant, to be sure, at least my younger self thought so. The old Greek man behind the counter greeted my grandparents by name. They obviously went there a lot, although I didn’t think of such things when they took me there.

It was enormous to me, table after table filled with 4 sparkly place settings each complete with a paper place-mat and a cloth napkin. Each table held a small white vase filled with yellow and white daisies or red carnations or whatever flower fit the season. It’s the only thing that changes in my recollections. The interior seemed so festive, yet somehow cozy. The walls were filled with red vinyl booths, just like the seats in my grandparents car.

We always sat in a booth.

And my little girl legs stuck to the vinyl just the same.

I was the main attraction when we were there – I could order anything on the menu. Anything. It didn’t really matter though. I was a creature of habit and I would order the same thing, time after time after time.

To begin my feast, only a cup of cream of chicken soup with rice would do. So thick and chickeny, I still search for that soup on menus today. I am usually disappointed to find, it is never as good as it is in my head.

The soup was accompanied by bread and butter from the bread basket. My grandfather and I preferred the long rolls, but if they didn’t have any, the dark rye would do. We would dip our rolls into the thick soup and sop up the remains with the tail ends of our bread.

My grandmother would order a salad with thousand island dressing. She would offer me half and I’d have the best of both worlds. Soup AND a salad. I was a princess, indeed.

My main course sometimes varied, depending on the day of the week we visited. Fridays meant fried perch with macaroni and cheese. Other days would mean chicken kiev or spaghetti. The spaghetti was made with those really fat spaghetti noodles and oodles upon oodles of Parmesan cheese.  My favorite was the chicken kiev. My grandmother would cut it up for me as I watched the hot butter ooze out from the middle. It came with rice and was slathered with chicken gravy. Yum, yum, yum.

But the best part of my feast was the dessert. I could not leave the restaurant until I had a bowl of peppermint ice cream. Talk about comfort food. Merely thinking about peppermint ice cream reminds me of my grandparents.

My grandparents never got dessert, in fact, my grandfather would save the little cups of sour cream that came with their baked potatoes and eat that while I ate my peppermint ice cream. That was his ice cream he would say. He’d tease me, too, because he never let me try it. For years I thought it was something all grown-ups did. I was sad to learn otherwise.

When we were done with our desserts, my grandfather and I would go up to the counter and pay the bill. He would give me the money and the tab and I would hand it to the old Greek man behind the counter. In return, he handed me the change, which I promptly gave to my grandfather, and a dum-dum. One of those tiny little suckers that lasted no more than a minute or two and then they were gone. Just a whiff of flavor, but enough to make you feel like a princess yet again.

I never remember the ride home to my grandparents house. As soon as I was settled in the back of that old Chrysler, I would fall asleep.

Both belly and heart full. I was content and I felt loved.


Going out to dinner with my grandparents is one of my best childhood memories. My Grandmother, in particular acted as a buffer between my mother and I. Even though I know now, that my grandmother was ill, she always took time with me. Always made me feel loved and wanted, unlike so many memories I have of my mother. This particular memory sums up how I wanted to always feel. I was the center of attention and I was appreciated simply because I existed.

During my stay at the hospital, one of the nurses mentioned that she had gotten peppermint ice cream at a local gas station/ice cream shop. I spent the rest of the day pining for my grandmother and wishing I could have one more dinner with grandparents. The ice cream itself was irrelevant, I very rarely even eat peppermint ice cream. The mere mention of it though, had my head in the past for the rest of the day.

Such a powerful association for me. Peppermint ice cream equals Love. What could be better than that?

This is a writing exercise in two parts, created by Kate Hopper on Memoir writing for The Red Dress Club:

Part I
Make a list of some of your most vivid childhood (or more recent) memories. (Maybe it’s an image of your father or mother doing something they did regularly; maybe it’s a visit to a grandmother’s house.)
Jot down a few memories and then pick one and write it down in as much detail as possible. (Take 10-15 minutes to do that…)
Part II
Now I want you to investigate what this memory means to you. Ask yourself the following questions: Why has this stuck with me? What did this mean to me at the time? Why did I (or someone else in the scene) react the way I (they) did? How does it feel to look back on it? How does it still affect me (or not)? (Take 10-15 minutes to do that.)
Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , | 32 Comments

Something To Hold On To

As I surveyed the rooms, I knew I had a monumental task in front of me.  Boxes and garbage bags as far as the eye could see. Hoarders would have a field day with me and all this crap.

Holy hell, where do I start?

7 years worth of books, discarded toys, outgrown clothes, things I didn’t need or use, but saved,  just in case I needed them again. An organizational nightmare made worse by all the new crap we lugged up here the day before David’s funeral. 5 months worth of school papers, outgrown clothes and toys.

Not to mention the baby things. David’s things. His clothes, his bassinet, his swing, his boppy. All the outgrown clothes, new clothes, clothes he had yet to grow into. I know this project will be the end of me. But it needs to be done if we ever want to finish renovating up here and actually use the bedrooms for more than junk collection.


I start with the LIFO method, last in first out. Chosen simply because I can’t walk but a foot into any of the doorways. I sort through 2 full boxes of school papers. 5 months worth of work for 2 kids. I whittle it down to a handful of papers and toss the rest.

Next up, clothes. So many boxes and bags full of clothes. I suppose lugging all the crap back downstairs will make it easier in the long-run – wash, sort, put away whatever fits, throw away the junkie stuff, box up the rest.

Sounds easy peasy.

I start with the boxes, avoiding David’s tiny dresser like the plague. One, two, three, six, nine, twelve…where the hell did all these clothes come from?  It’s going to take me days to sort them all.

And it does. Every day I spend time sifting through the bags and boxes sorting each piece into it’s appropriate pile.

Fortunately there’s plenty of things that fit the boys, a good bit to sell or giveaway and a couple of boxes for Zachary and Jonathan to grow into.

The washing machine hasn’t had a break in days and I wonder if it isn’t  just easier to dump everything into the washer first, and sort later. First up, a garbage bag full of clothes Zachary has outgrown.

As I’m dumping old Thomas t-shirts and bitty pairs of skivvies into the washer, the flash of yellow and blue catches my eye. What was that?

It sure looked small.

I reach in and pull it out, immediately knowing whose it is and as I stand there, holding the tiny “Little Brother” onesie in my hand,  all I can do is cry.

I hold it to my face and inhale, hoping to get a tiny whiff of the babe that once inhabited this tiny shred of cloth. My mind plays tricks on me and I’m sure I can smell that newborn baby smell complete with baby formula tainted breath. I see that toothless grin and those baby blues, made that much bluer with the bit of navy blue around the collar.


I dry my eyes and slip the tiny memory into the pocket of my sweater.

I throw the rest of the clothes in and start the washer. I return to my aforementioned task of sorting the multitudes of crap upstairs.

Every now and then, I tentatively slip my hand into my pocket, confirming the existence of my treasure.

If only I could stitch it around my broken heart and through my empty arms. Aching with the want of something to hold on to.

I would. I surely would.

This post was written in response to this week’s Red Writing Hood’s writing prompt: Write a piece about finding a forgotten item of clothing in the back of a drawer or closet. Let us know how the item was found, what it is, and why it’s so meaningful to you or your character.

The piece should be less than 600 words and I am way proud of my 599. Please feel free to critique.

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 29 Comments

Sugarplum Dreams

Wrapping paper strewn all over the floor, tape and stickers stuck to my shirt, I place the last wrapped present under the tree. What a mess to clean up before I can head to bed. I shake my head trying to gather the strength to clean it up.

I munch on the last of the cookies, toss the reindeer carrots back in the frig and gulp down the room-temperature milk.

I can barely keep my eyes open. I can’t believe another year has come and gone and I still haven’t learned to wrap the Christmas presents before Christmas Eve.

3am? Really?


Such an ordeal to get everything wrapped, just so the minions can rip them open in a few hours. One of these years, I’ll learn not to buy so much crap.

It’s not like they appreciate the effort of the elf who does all the wrapping, hiding, finagling of finances so they can get the latest and greatest toys.

Tired and cranky, my own damn fault, I suppose. I’m glad it’s done and over with. At least, for another year.

The tree does look pretty, though. The lights softly lighting up the living room. The multitudes of presents pouring  out from underneath.

Not bad, not bad at all.

Just need to hang up Jonathan’s stocking and what was that? I stop in my tracks and listen.


I step away from the stocking just as Jacob walks sleepily into the room.

What’s the matter, Jakey?

I heard a noise, Mommy… woke me up, I was scared.

Come on, I’m sure it was nothing, let’s get you back in bed.

As I try to re-direct away from the tree, I realize I’m too late.

Mommy – LOOK at the presents, mommy, mommy, it was SANTA!

shhh, Jakey, you’ll wake your brother, come on, let’s go sit in the chair.

But, mommy, LOOK – the cookies are gone!

Crap, as I wipe my face for stray cookie crumbs, I scoop him up and settle in the rocking chair.

As I rock, he asks in his small sleepy voice, Do you think it was the reindeers that woke me up?

Jakey, I’m going to tell you a secret, promise you won’t tell your brother?

I promise, mommy, pinky promise, mommy.

Alright, pinky promise – Santa was here, Jakey, I had to let him in.

Really, mommy? Breathy with sleepy wonder

Of course, you didn’t think he really came down the chimney, did you?

I don’t know, mommy…yawn….did you talk to him, mommy?

Rocking slowly.

Nope, I just let him in and sat right here, you’re not allowed to talk to him or watch him put the presents under the tree.

Rocking, rocking.

wh..why, mommy? his eyes almost closed.

Rocking, rocking.

Because, he has so many presents to deliver, he doesn’t have time to sit and chat with everyone.

Will I ever get to see him, mommy?

Rocking, Rocking.

Sure, when you have kids of your own, you’ll have to let him in your house, just like I did.

Wrapping the blanket snuggly around the two of us.

I love Santa, mommy, I can’t wait to open my presents.

Looking down as he drifts off to sleep, one chubby hand resting on my arm, the other wrapped around his stuffed cat.

Me neither, Jakey, me neither.

Today’s post was written in response to The Red Dress Club‘s memoir writing meme assignment. “After you have died, your daughter/son will be given the gift of seeing a single five-minute period of your life through your eyes, feeling and experiencing those moments as you did when they occurred. What five minutes would you have him/her see?

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 11 Comments

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