I brought a journal on vacation and didn’t write a damn thing in it but I did read a few dated entries. They were written in 2001 when ironically, we were on vacation.
I wrote mostly about my girls and the mounting sense of personal disappointment in my ability (or lack thereof) to understand them and their changing lives.

Things have changed dramatically in six short years as this journal entry
from today shows . . .


My wife and I went out to dinner last Wednesday night.
It had been a crappy day weather-wise on the Cape and the girls wanted to stay in for the night. They ordered some cheesy Chinese and picked up a few DVD’s to watch with their orders of Boneless Ribs, Crab Rangoons, LoMein, Chicken Fingers and buckets of Duck Sauce.

Pamela and I hardly ever go out these days so quite happily off we went.
Vacations can be unusual in some ways because you rarely spend that kind of time together during a normal week.
It’s agetting to know you {again} kind of scenario; not painful in any way, just different.
We talked about drinks, appetizers and entrées, the place we were staying in, our tentative plans for the next day and numerous ‘remember when’ type memories.
Pamela ordered baked scallops and I had to smile when she tried them and made a face.

What’s the matter?

Your scallops are so much better than these. Why is that?


I shrugged my shoulders in my best ‘I don’t know’ fashion.
But I knew. I make them much better and always have.
We finished dinner and decided to take a walk when we noticed the day’s rain had stopped.
I had a cigar and she, her thoughts.
We walked past a Mini-Golf place that had soft-serve. (don’t they all?)


You wanna get an ice cream?


Sure, she said.


A kid-sized twist for the blonde and a regular sized for me, the old guy.
We retreated to our own thoughts as we usually do when we eat ice cream when we saw an older couple drive into the parking lot.
I nodded towards the car and said,


That’ll be us in like 20 years.


You think so?


Sure, I said.


I don’t know if I want to come back here without the kids; too many memories.


But that’s what this place is all about for us . . . memories . . . and some real good ones too.


I don’t know, she said. It makes me sad . . .

The Cape has been a very special place for us over the years.
We’ve watched our daughters grow from diapers and playpens to young and beautiful women that can now drive and pick up their own Chinese food (which they did).

Our lives are changing and that’s a difficult pill to swallow sometimes, especially for a mother that loves her girls as much as I know she does.

I tried to convince her that the girls will never really leave the Cape.
They’ll be at every ice cream stand from Hyannis to P-Town that we visit, every beach that offers up a sunset like the one we all saw years ago in West Dennis; they’re everywhere we could ever need them to be.
Somehow, I got the feeling she didn’t quite believe me.

I will say I now have a deeper understanding of a women’s love for ice cream.

We walked back to the hotel holding hands while the earth continued to spin and the stars continued to blink on.




10 thoughts on “Softy

  1. Two of the most difficult moments in a person’s life are these: the moment one realizes that one’s parents are just ordinary people after all, and the moment one realizes that one’s children are no longer children. Of these two the second one is the easiest to deal with, I think, for the first realization only brings a sense of loss, while the second one can also bring a sense of joy and even accomplishment when one realizes that one’s children are growing into the kind of adults one can be proud of. Having met your daughters, I would say that you are well on your way to that realization. So tell Pam to cheer up: she’s not losing children, but rather gaining three adult friends who will be with her for the rest of her life. Think of it that way and it’s almost impossible to be sad that your daughters are growing up.

    Besides, now the little rugrats can pay for their own Chinese food. 8)


    I paid for the little buggers this time.
    Thanks, Smitty


  2. i’ve always looked in total wonder at the women and mothers my babies have become…yes, sadness came with the realisation they HAD grown up, but the pride has made it more than worth it…if you always remember these wonderful people are the result of your love for each other, contentment will win out eventually…

    It never ceases to amaze me that I have such smart people that visit me.
    Thanks, Moe. Bloody Oath!


  3. I could read a book with stories that are as beautifully told as you tell them. A little bit of happening, a little bit of thoughts served with a big helping of ice cream. Isn’t life perfect?
    (in my sense of course 😉 )

    SpasmicallyPerfect . . . 😎


  4. I have to say, you and your wife taking a walk and getting ice cream……that was predictable. But the post you whipped up around it….well, I’m not exactly surprised, but once again, captivated by your story and the feelings evoked. Very nice!

    It’s so nice when things just seem to “happen” . . . like this.
    Glad you liked it.


  5. it’s hard watching your little ones grow up but you will have lots of places and times to make your own memories, with our without icecream! tell her not to be sad, their journey is just beginning, like yours and hers once was.

    Oh, and what a journey it was!
    We’ll have to keep some of that off the blog. 😆


  6. My oldest son is 15 (16 in October w/ driver’s ed 1st sem. this year-DOH!) He’s ALREADY not willing to “hang” with us like the good old days but my 11 yr old twins are still kinda clingy. I told my husband the other day, “I met you when I was 19, That’s David (our oldest) in 3 years!!!!” OMG, where has time gone?

    I think if you have a really great family foundation, you’ll have the inevitable empty nest for a wee bit, but it’ll come back at you ten fold. Here’s to hoping anyway!

    Wonderfully written as usual!

    I think you’re right, Bella.
    It does come back to you in some way
    It’s amazing how the years fly by, huh?
    As always, thanks for the warm comment.


  7. ~m ,

    Apparently you’re a “softee” yourself.

    What beautiful thoughts about the girls and how poetic too.

    Thanks for sharing this thought provoking post.

    I am an old softee. You figured that one out, eh? You smart cookie. 😉
    I’ll be stopping by your place later tonight.
    Thanks, Ruby


  8. Argh…see, my hubby and I are on the front side of this and can’t imagine how nice it will be to actually have a real conversation again someday without interruptions. But that would be weird at first not having the kids along. Habit, you know. 🙂

    And you captured the bittersweetness so well. It’s the same feeling I had when I watched in the rearview mirror while my dad stood in the middle of the street and waved goodbye when my husband and I drove off for the first time after we married, with my mom on the front-porch swing.

    And then all the grandkids came 😉 and all the chaos again that they missed. And there is ALWAYS ice cream in the freezer now. Go figure. I think that must be how my dad comforted my mom, too, or vice versa. It’s universal!

    Thanks, Mel.
    You understand this post all too well I see. 😉
    Thanks for the comment.


  9. Beautiful post, Michael. I agree with one of the earlier comments, I could read a book of short stories like this. I think you should write an essay book. I’d be first in line to get a copy. 🙂


    It’s in the works. Believe me, I’ll keep everyone posted.
    Sending a few queries next week.


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