Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Ice Cream Bucket

 Growing up in Idaho in a farming community, I was lucky enough to get to hang around the IGA store where my dad made and sold soft ice cream. Well, it was Boyd's IGA and my dad, you guessed it, was that Boyd. We loved the days when Dad made the ice cream. It was always such a treat.  My dad was such a hard worker and at one time or another I think we all worked in the IGA store.  Dad and Mom taught us all about the rewards of working hard and playing hard.  What great parents I have.

Here's my handsome dad.  When I was growing up I always thought, "My dad is handsome enough to be a movie star!"  He was my very own movie star.

At family get-togethers we always had the genuine homemade ice cream. Different of course than the soft ice cream in the store. We loved homemade ice cream and Dad would give us tastes right out of the bucket.

Wow, did we have the best ice cream from this old green bucket.  Such fun times.

My Grandpa and Grandma Neider even had one of the hand crank wooden buckets.

My grandparents started the tradition of making ice cream at family get togethers and my parents carried on that fun tradition. Naturally when Rich and I got married and later moved to the East, I knew we needed our own ice cream bucket. We bought an inexpensive red - hard plastic bucket with an electric motor. However, I could never make the ice cream like Dad made. It never turned out to my satisfaction We tried and tried and eventually gave up the bucket so to speak. After many years I actually gave the red bucket a toss in the trash.

We did get to have that delicious homemade treat whenever we visited home in Idaho however. Fast forward to the summer of 1998. My dad and mom were going to visit Virginia and I was going to be ready. I went out and bought an authentic wooden ice cream bucket. Dad was coming and he would show me the secrets to making delicious homemade ice cream. I had waited long enough.

Sure enough we set the day and purchased all of the ingredients, the right kind of ice and the salt. We put the bucket out on the screen porch and set to work. Before long the ice cream maker was whirring around. We kept checking the ice level and Dad knew just how much salt and what it was supposed to sound like. Sure enough he was an expert at this process.
                                             Best ice cream ever in the summer of 1998!

And success...when we pulled the lid off the ice cream, it was a beautiful sight. We made the most scrumptious treat I have ever tasted. Needless to say, I was delighted at our work of art. The whole family was. Dad had taught me his tricks before he went home the end of July. It more than met my expectation. The story goes on.

Toward the end of August I had to fly to the West to help our three sons get settled in college. They were all enrolled in different colleges and my baby, Andrew, was a freshman. He was just starting out and I was sure he needed his mom to help get him settled. Of course they all needed me.  Right!  It was a crazy week. Matt was at the U in SLC, Jeremy at BYU in Provo and Andrew at BYU in Rexburg, Idaho.

This was the olden days remember and I had to go to the registration office at the U to put Matt's tuition on my American Express. Jeremy had just returned from his mission and needed supplies for his apartment. BYU did not take American Express. Darn, I needed those sky miles. Andrew was supposed to move into the dorm on Saturday of that week.  So I rented a car and loaded it up.  One day for Matt, one day for Jeremy and then three days for Andrew to get him settled at BYU-I.

For some reason we tried to move everything up a day and had to really push. The dorm was reluctant, but Andrew finally convinced them he needed a day early move in. We were from the East after all. Everything fell in place and on Friday evening Andrew was settled except for a new bank account and his meal card. I was feeling the urgency to get back to Mom and Dad's in Pocatello. So I cut the apron strings and said, "You can do those things tomorrow on your own. Right?"  Andrew had no car so he had to walk downtown  to get the bank account.  He agreed and I headed south. As I passed Kenny and Margo's (they lived  in Idaho Falls), I felt a little guilty about abandoning Andrew because of the car and almost pulled off the highway to their home so I could go back up to Rexburg to help Andrew the next morning.

Something was pushing me on. I arrived at Mom and Dad's about 10:00 pm. We were so happy to see each other again and we had a great visit that night. We sat on the bed and visited until about 2:00 am.  We laughed and talked on and on about the summer.  They had been in the East for two months.  They were with Darryl in Connecticut for a month then in Virginia with us for a month.  We also made it to the beach in Nags Head for a weekThe next morning we got up and were getting ready to drive to SLC for my nephew's mission farewell. My dad was teasing me about what I was ironing when suddenly he felt dizzy and sick. He sat down and said he felt cold. Mom wrapped a blanket around him and I put my arms around him. Unbelievably he collapsed and Mother called 911.  Dad died right there in my arms and the EMTs were there within five minutes, but could not revive him. It happened so fast, I couldn't believe it. It was heartbreaking and very painful to say the least. One minute he was there and the next he quit breathing and his heart had stopped.  While the EMTs  were working to revive Dad, I slipped into the bedroom to pray. As I prayed I received an immediate answer. I fought that answer, but I knew Dad would not be revived and I felt it with such finality.

I knew from the moment Dad died that it was no accident that I was there in their home. The one day of the entire year I had been in their home. Everything with my college kids had to be changed and moved in order for me to be at Mom and Dad's that morning.  I was there with Mother and we felt pretty helpless after the EMTs took Dad away in the ambulance.  As I said, they were not able to revive him, but took him to the hospital. We were stunned and our hearts were breaking.  I stood there in their home in a stupor. Then I saw his watch where the EMTs had laid it on the floor in the corner. I put it on my wrist and cried and cried. I wore that watch for a very long time. I still have it.  Some days I put it on my wrist just because.

Our lives were forever changed that day, especially my mom's life. The family gathered and we said goodbye to our dad. Rich flew out and our boys all came. It was a wonderful celebration of Dad's life. Everyone experiences losing a parent, but this was my dad and it was a huge loss in my life.  He taught me so many things.  How to laugh, how to work hard, how to ski, how to hammer, how to paint, how to have fun, how to love each other, how to lovingly tease and be teased,  how to be a friend, how to be gracious, how to be mad and then get over it, how to be responsible for your mistakes, how to honor your grandparents and extended family members, and, well, I could go on and on.  My dad, along with my mom, of course, taught me how to be.  What an amazing person he was.  It was so very difficult to have him gone.

I stumbled through the next few weeks. I was starting a new job that I had to get back to and Rich and I were now empty nesters. But life felt too empty somehow and so very sad. And then one day I happened to see the wooden ice cream bucket on the shelf in my garage. And then I kept seeing it and it was a very sweet reminder of a wonderful memory with my dad, but it was also a painful reminder that he was gone. I tried to push the pain away, but I knew I could never use the wooden bucket again or that it would be a very long time before I could. I kept thinking I would try homemade ice cream again.  I even took the bucket to the beach one year.  Crazy as it sounds, I couldn't bring myself to action.  As it turned out I gave the ice cream bucket to a friend. I knew that my homemade ice cream would never taste quite the same as the day I made ice cream with my dad. I haven't made ice cream since that happy July day in Fairfax in 1998. So I keep that wonderful memory and many others of my dad tucked in my heart. He was such a good man and an excellent dad. 

This picture is priceless to me, even though I think it is pretty funny.  It's in front of our home in Fairfax.

Okay, this picture of us had to be in the 1980s looking at Dad's glasses and my hair, but here we are.  Pretty funny to see now! 

Dad's been gone going on 16 years.  His birthday would have been yesterday, March 17th.  He would have been 92.  My mom says she misses him everyday.  We all miss Dad.  One of these days I will go buy a fancy smancy ice cream maker that just sits on the counter and make some homemade ice cream and think of my amazing Dad.  Thank you Dad for so many things.  I Love you.