The Ice Cream Girl

The Ice Cream Girl

From A 3rd Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul

The Ice Cream Girl

Eleanor didn’t know what was wrong with Grandma. She was always forgetting things, like where she put the sugar, when to pay her bills, and what time to be ready to be picked up for grocery shopping.

“What’s wrong with Grandma?” Eleanor asked. “She used to be such a neat lady. Now she looks sad and lost and doesn’t remember things.”

“Grandma’s just getting old,” Mother said. “She needs a lot of love right now, dear.”

“What’s it like to get old?” Eleanor asked. “Does everybody forget things? Will I?”

“Not everyone forgets things when they get old, Eleanor. We think Grandma may have Alzheimer’s disease, and that makes her forget more. We may have to put her in a nursing home to get the proper care she needs.”

“Oh, Mother! That’s terrible! She’ll miss her own little house so much, won’t she?”

“Maybe, but there isn’t much else we can do. She’ll get good care there and make some new friends.”

Eleanor looked sorrowful. She didn’t like the idea at all.

“Can we go and see her often?” she asked. “I’ll miss talking to Grandma, even if she does forget things.”

“We can go on weekends,” Mother answered. “We can take her a present.”

“Like ice cream? Grandma loves strawberry ice cream!” Eleanor smiled.

“Strawberry ice cream it is!” Mother said.

The first time they visited Grandma in the nursing home, Eleanor wanted to cry.

“Mother, almost all of the people are in wheelchairs,” she said.

“They have to be. Otherwise they’d fall,” Mother explained. “Now when you see Grandma, smile and tell her how nice she looks.”

Grandma sat all by herself in a corner of the room they called the sun parlor. She sat looking out at the trees.

Eleanor hugged Grandma. “Look,” she said, “we brought you a present—your favorite, strawberry ice cream!”

Grandma took the Dixie cup and the spoon and began eating without saying a word.

“I’m sure she’s enjoying it, dear,” Eleanor’s mother assured her.

“But she doesn’t seem to know us.” Eleanor was disappointed.

“You have to give her time,” Mother said. “She’s in new surroundings, and she has to make an adjustment.”

But the next time they visited Grandma it was the same. She ate the ice cream and smiled at them, but she didn’t say anything.

“Grandma, do you know who I am?” Eleanor asked.

“You’re the girl who brings me the ice cream,” Grandma said.

“Yes, but I’m Eleanor, too, your granddaughter. Don’t you remember me?” she asked, throwing her arms around the old lady.

Grandma smiled faintly.

“Remember? Sure I remember. You’re the girl who brings me ice cream.”

Suddenly Eleanor realized that Grandma would never remember her. Grandma was living in a world all her own, in a world of shadowy memories and loneliness.

“Oh, how I love you, Grandma!” she said. Just then she saw a tear roll down Grandma’s cheek.

“Love,” she said. “I remember love.”

“You see, dear, that’s all she wants,” Mother said. “Love.”

“I’ll bring her ice cream every weekend then, and hug her even if she doesn’t remember me,” Eleanor said.

After all, that was more important—to remember love rather than someone’s name.

Marion Schoeberlein

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