God – In 1958 before a family dinner and sitting around a picnic table under the pine trees on a warm summer day, my sister, Carolyn, took this picture with her Brownie camera. This photograph was taken in black and white. No color was needed to make a vibrant memory for me. Or to recall the sweet taste of the cool and creamy dessert. Mother’s homemade vanilla ice cream.
I do not know what possessed my sister to take the photograph. Maybe the Brownie camera was new and she was eager to use it. But, just maybe my sister was struck by the almost Norman Rockwellian character of the scene of her parents and mine so much in love with and devoted to each other. The kind of moment a child can never get enough of. The absence of drama. Faces at peace with one another. Simplicity of the task at hand. Genuine and transparent to both the eye and the heart. Togetherness. The joy of the moment made. The anticipation of consuming the result of each other’s contribution to be shared with their children, with family. Love frozen in time. Indelible sweetness.
As a Master Credentialed Collaborative Divorce Attorney, Mediator, father and grandfather, I see every day that this moment in 1958 is a powerful example of what all Your children need to see, to follow, to learn from, to replicate in their marriages when they grow up and have their own kids.
Admittedly, the image in this photograph is blurred. Yet the image is seen by me with such clarity and vividness on this Mother’s Day I feel I could really reach out and touch Mom on the Earth even though she is with You now in Heaven. I see the image for what it was and for what it is in black and white. Love. Your love for us through her and her love for me and our family.
What happened in cranking the ice cream bucket handle, in taking turns to share the burden, to churn and transform the ingredients from a warm mixture of milk, cream, eggs, and vanilla into an unforgettable delight. Ice cream to savor in my mouth as long as possible before swallowing and taking another bite. My bowl of ice cream would too soon disappear. There at the picnic table on one beautiful day. Then, gone but not really gone. As with my mother with You in Heaven. Like the memory, the blessing which keeps on blessing. The image giving birth to this prayer.
Watching the churning and the turning of the handle on the ice cream bucket was important for sure. But, God, what Mother did before she posed for the picture with Dad was important too. Standing in the kitchen pouring the milk and cream into the bowl. Adding just the right amount of Adams Vanilla Extract. Folding in the eggs. Stirring the long wooden spoon with care. Pouring the raw mixture into the pot on the oven and warming it just enough but being careful not to burn the potential feast.
Pouring the warm mixture into the container. Setting the container in the bucket. Then, adding layer after alternating layer of ice and salt until the bucket was full. I so much wanted to sample the ice cream when the handle could not be turned anymore. But, Mom made me wait. She showed me that some things are worth waiting for. The ice cream must be even colder. The bucket must topped off with ice and salt and packed. The ice cream must be cured. Some things in life take time. Sweetness from labor and love must wait to bloom. To happen.
God, I thank You for my mother’s love and for her homemade vanilla ice cream. Her love which made our house a home.
God, that day I learned that the ice cream was worth waiting for. Mom was right. That day we shared a fabulous meal with Mom and Dad. All topped off with Mom’s homemade vanilla ice cream
God, please tell Mom Happy Mother’s Day for me.
Please thank her for her love which gave us all something sweet from You.
Some things are indeed worth waiting for.
And, as I hold this old photograph in my hand,
And, as I recall the taste of homemade vanilla ice cream,
I am older than Mother and Dad were in this photograph.
Yet I am blessed to still be Your child
And a child of a mom like her,
A mom who showed her son
What it takes to live and to love
With beauty and sweetness and care.
For me to taste a little bit of Your Heaven on Earth
And the everlasting love Mom has with You now.
God, may all Your children eat something today, like my mother’s ice cream, to take them back to the past, to their own cherished memories their moms made possible for them. In this challenging time of social distancing and worry may the taste of memories of a mother’s love bring them comfort too. May that give them hope that sweet things will soon come pass with prayer and faith in You. Amen
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Jack H. Emmott is a Senior Counsel of Gray, Reed & McGraw, LLP, a 145-lawyer full-service firm in Houston, Dallas, and Waco, Texas, a Board-Certified Family Law and Master Credentialed Collaborative Law Professional Divorce Attorney, Mediator, Author, Entrepreneur and Inspirational Speaker. For more information about Jack or his latest book, Bending Angels: Living Messengers of God’s Love, go to the Bending Angel website.