I couldn’t see him but I knew he was there the minute I got out of the car. I could see the glow from the tip of that nickel cigar, could smell that old familiar pungent smell and could hear that rhythmic sound of wooden rockers going back and forth over the uneven floorboards of the porch… yep, my grandfather was sitting there in the dark in HIS chair on the front porch. All was right with the universe…
Suddenly I hear other voices… women and men both…. my grandmother, and several of my dad’s siblings. All of them sitting on the screen porch in the dark… just visiting. My dad and I walk through the door and join them.. We share the usual family pleasantries about our days.. work and school and other family members… who has been doing what. Then everything falls completely silent. We sit there for a little while in total silence. Well almost total. there is a comfortable rhythm to all of the rockers moving in syncopated rhythms with each other… then out of the silence would come the words from my grandmother that we all were waiting to hear… “Anyone interested in some ice cream?”
Asking a member of my dad’s family if they are interested in ice cream is like asking a fish if they interested in staying in the water. So my grandmother and I make our way back to the kitchen. I get out the ice cream bowls. Well, actually they aren’t bowls but rather empty Cool Whip containers. They are the perfect size for a White family size serving of ice cold Heaven. While I was getting the bowls, my grandmother would be getting the ice cream out of the freezer compartment of the old Frigidaire refrigerator. The only things in the compartment were the 2 metal ice trays and 4 half gallon containers of various ice creams. They were all brand new, never had been opened… waiting there as if someone knew that tonight was a porch sitting, ice cream eating night.
By the time my grandmother and I had finished, the ice trays stood alone in the freezer compartment and the trash can was now full with evidence of a summer evening porch convention of the White family. I would take the bowls out to each member of the family as my grandmother served the ice cream into each bowl. By the time we got back on the porch with our ice cream, the laughter and conversation we could hear while we were in the kitchen had stopped… the only sounds to be heard were the rockers again… and spoons scraping that last little bit of pleasure from the bottom of those bowls. Yep, a rocking chair and an empty ice cream bowl.. now that is contentment…..