When Beaven retired a bunch of his buddies decided they wanted to stay connected so they set up a scheme to get together every Tuesday for lunch. A few years later Sarah started kindergarten and since he was already in town Beaven started picking her up from school on Tuesdays and taking her for ice cream. Since he was in the neighborhood and all. Bonding time with his granddaughter. Being the hero granddad and all. He did this all through elementary school. Every Tuesday.
When it came time for her to move to middle school he wondered if things would change. He wasn’t sure if Sarah would still be cool with going for ice cream with her grandfather after school when she was in a higher grade now. Would she be too old now? So, he asked her.
“Sarah, do you still want to go out for ice cream on Tuesdays this year?” And the answer was a resounding and indignant “yes!”
By this time her sister was in school, too, a couple of grades behind her. The only problem with picking up kids from two different schools was that they got out at different times. He spent the next couple of years in a convoluted weekly routine of picking up Essie at the elementary school then killing time until Sarah got out at 4 o’clock at the middle school.
I still wonder what a 70- year old grandfather does with a pre-teen girl to kill an hour. What do they have in common? What do they talk about? It’s not like he’s a connoisseur of Barbies or the cast of High School Musical.
But I do know that when Sarah went into high school a few years later we were sure that his magical time with them would now be over. Grandfather couldn’t possibly be cool any more. Ice cream couldn’t be that valuable of an enticement for their time. Yet, once again, the response was an enthusiastic, “Yes!” when he asked if they wanted to continue weekly ice cream.
The schedule only got worse that year. Sarah now got out at 2:30 but they had to wait for Essie at 4pm. His whole day was spent in parking lots waiting for somebody to get out of school.
Then the fall of her junior year came and she had a drivers’ license. There was no need for anyone to pick her up after school. She had wheels and could get herself home. She could drive her sister. Indeed, she could drive the whole damned school if she wanted to. She didn’t need her grandfather for anything. We were sure the days of Tuesday ice cream were over.
But a couple of days before school started she called Beaven and said, “So, we’ll meet you at Braum’s after school on Tuesday, right?”
And that’s when it sunk in. It never was about the ride home. It never even was about the ice cream.
Over the last 13 years Beaven has had a weekly appointment to spend time with his granddaughters. One on one. At a table across from each other at the Braum’s Ice Cream store next door to the KinderCare where their mother works. They can talk about anything they want to. It’s just them; I’ve only gone a couple of times when I happened to be with him for some reason. It’s their special magical time together. Sometimes Emily joins them but not usually. It’s a totally relaxing, unstructured time with their grandfather. It doesn’t cost a lot of money. He didn’t set out to do this for 13 years—it just happened. But it has been one of the greatest traditions of our family.
Yesterday was Sarah’s last ice cream day. Her graduation on Saturday will only be a footnote compared to the last ice cream Tuesday.They let me crash the party yesterday and join them. I expected a sad farewell, one moment of finality where it all ended but that didn’t happen. Because it’s not ending. They reminded me he will still come into town every Tuesday for lunch with his buddies during the summer and stop by for ice cream—he just won’t have to wait until school is out for the day. Beaven has carved out a relationship with these two girls that makes its own rules and is comfortable with itself.
He will keep taking Essie for ice cream next year and until she graduates—as long as she wants him to. They may expand on their own special gig: a visit to Barnes & Noble bookstore. Grandpa is always good for a trip to the bookstore in addition to ice cream.
It never was about the ice cream. It was always about the relationship between a grandfather and his granddaughters.
We have already found an ice cream parlor in Denton near the UNT campus.