“Let’s go see Mr. Brown!”
“Yes!” we squealed.
We weren’t related to Mr. Brown, not even close friends.
Mr. Brown owned an ice cream store. Our family loved Mr. Brown because we loved his ice cream. I had learned a valuable lesson having to do with Mr. Brown’s ice cream, one that influenced my life permanently.
The day was sunny. My brother Kim and sister Judy and I had gone to town with Dad. As we were driving home, Dad called out the familiar repeat, “Let’s stop and see Mr. Brown!”
“OK!” we responded in unison. We arrived at Mr. Brown’s. Dad put his hand in the pocket of his green Penney’s pants and jingled the spare change. He drew out four nickels. “Just enough,” he stated.
Judy and Kim ordered rocky road and butter brickle. Dad poked his head through the open window. “What flavor do you want, Jelean?
I hesitated, “I don’t know.”
“Hurry up,” Dad encouraged.
“I can’t decide.”
He laughed a little impatiently, then kindly encouraged his shy daughter to decide.
I sat in silence. Finally he said, “If you can’t decide by the time I count to five, you’ll have to go without.”
He wouldn’t really do that to his little girl. Nevertheless I didn’t speak. He began to count slowly, “one, two." I was tempted to test his threat. "Three."
My mind raced, say cherry garden or green pineapple, Mama’s favorites. I contemplated.
Just order Dad’s favorite, maple nut, I thought.
I focused back on my father’s determined counting, “four.”
“Jelean,” I said to myself, “order vanilla.” But I kept silent.
Dad paused. I was stubborn, half testing, half still undecided and still silent. Finally the silence broke. “Five,” he said.
With determination, he turned and went into Mr. Brown’s and came out with two ice cream cones. Dad and I both went without. We began our 10-mile drive back home.
I didn’t try to stop the tears. I could feel my father’s tender heart hurt as much as mine did. But I felt a special bonding between us. I haven’t forgotten that day. Mr. Brown’s not around anymore. And try asking me what flavor of ice cream I would like today.
Unable to decide at Mr. Brown’s ice cream store that day was a memorable experience of a father who had taught his daughter to make future decisions. It wasn’t about ice cream anymore. It was about decisions of great value, of utmost importance, a decision to make when it came time to choose a mate. It was about decisions in child rearing. It was about decisions to make to handle life’s trials. It was about decisions!