Sunday, June 3, 2007

No hay miel sin hiel

My Dad would have turned 85 on the first of May this year. Maybe this was why I kept thinking of him all month, certainly moreso than usual. We celebrated his 80th, and final, birthday with him in a nursing home in Youghal (pronounced "Yawl"), the small town near Cork where he and my stepmother chose to live after they got married. It was a day of mixed emotions - by that time he had suffered a number of small strokes, and his condition was clearly deteriorating. Still, my sister and I had both flown home to be with him, and we celebrated the best we could in his room, with whiskey and chocolate cake, both of which rallied him quite a bit. He died later that year, in September, and I still miss him.

Oddly enough, one of the triggers which makes me remember him vividly is ubiquitous here in Spain - the ice-cream. I've already written on this blog that the quality of Spanish ice-cream alone is reason enough to make one consider a permanent move to Spain. Dad would have loved it. From our first travels abroad as a family (to Italy, when my sister and I were in our teens), the quality of the local ice-cream was one of Dad's main criteria for judging whether a destination might be worth another visit. My first summer in graduate school in Chapel Hill, my family came to visit, and daily trips to Swensen's ice-cream parlor were a key feature of that visit. It was a source of infinite disappointment to him that the rest of us united in opposition to him ordering one of Swensen's infamous earthquakes:

The photo doesn't even begin to do justice to the concoction in question, which - at 10 scoops - weighed in at 2.5 pounds of ice-creamy goodness.

So, every time I order an ice-cream here in Spain, it's with more than a tinge of regret that Dad can't be here to experience it as well. He would have such a blast.

But, as the Spanish proverb puts it: "No hay miel sin hiel". There is no honey without bitterness. Dad, I still miss you. I wish you could come visit.

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