When The Ice Cream Man Stops Coming

Five years ago, I woke up on Easter morning and received news that absolutely destroyed me.

I opened my door, looked directly into my dad’s eyes and knew immediately that something was wrong.

“Gram passed away this morning,” he said, reaching his arms out to offer me a hug.

For a moment, I just stared at him. I didn’t want to believe it. How could such a strong woman just slip away like that? I was angry. It wasn’t fair.

Who was going to practically force-feed me Oreos after dinner? Whose loud, Polka voice was going to shout through her big, red farmhouse, telling me to stop running on the stairs, if not hers? Would the ice cream man still come to her house with Popsicle Snow Cones?

In journalism, it is often considered incorrect to refer to someone as having “passed away.”

They died.

Sure, that big, red farmhouse has since been sold to another family, and, come to think of it, I haven’t had a Snow Cone in nearly a decade.

But, my Gram did not die. She is still very much alive:

When I find peace in sitting on my porch and just watching the world go by – that’s my Gram.

Every time I feel the need to yell things that could most certainly be expressed in an inside voice – that’s my Gram.

When I go out of my way to help another person – that’s my Gram.

If I utter “Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” – THAT is definitely my Gram.

As a dedicated nurse and medical professional for the majority of her life, she constantly put the needs of others above her own. She always believed in, and fought to maintain, the right of the elderly to have a full, dignified and complete life, regardless of age or illness.

I may not be able to sit at her feet and (be forced to) watch the PGA tour for hours on end, or play (and always lose) card games with her at her oversized dining room table, and the ice cream man may not come, but my Gram is not dead.

To this day, this woman inspires me to be the best damn person I can be, and to care for each and every person I meet equally, no matter who they are.


Rest in the most blissful peace, beautiful. I love you to the moon and back.


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