Friday night had a soft edge. Freed from babysitting we jumped at the chance to sit on a deck at a local pub and nosh on crab dip while throwing back a shot or two of tequila. The air was sweet with Spring and we watched the sun go down. Our need for sweets took over on the way home and we stopped at an ice cream place, one of the ones where you stand at the window and order.
Standing behind the young dad with the coupon and the 50-something lady with a need for butter pecan, we waited,snuggling a little. A group approached, 6 or 7, obviously siblings or cousins, related — sharing that banter that only people who love each other very much, who have shared thousands of moments –can. As they pointed at the sign that says “free ice cream if you’re shorter than this” I had to laugh, and get in the conversation. The one trying to be “shorter than this” was at least 6’8″ , and I felt the need to tell her that “we could fold you in half and you wouldnt be “shorter than” that. A great conversation ensued, she was from Atlanta — where they didnt have WaWa, but do have waffle house ( waffle waffle waffle house…), Bobby is her brother, she is staying with him, the little sister ( probably pushing 40 ) was “not like dad, we’re all tall, all 6 of us, but her, shes short”. More conversation about the sign, and how “little sister” could probably make herself free ice cream sized with a bit of effort. Then, I had to ask — “what brings you here to our town?”
The laughing eyes sighed, the smile weakened. “Our dad, our father passed on Monday, we’re having his services tomorrow, Im going home in a couple days”. And, as I said I was sorry, as I looked each one of them in the eye and told them I felt their loss, that I had lost my dad 4 years earlier, I felt the edge, soft as it was. They were a bunch of brothers and sisters, sharing ice cream and laughter, probably as they had done with their dad many times. They were sad, but they were together, and I couldnt help but feel blessed that I got to see that — the way they returned to familiar things, missing dad.