Ice cream… by Dan Hines

Guest blogger, Dan Hines hopes you enjoy the warmer months. Savor his words, and maybe a vanilla cone, dipped in butterscotch.

Ice cream isn’t just ice cream.

Right? Follow along… you know this.

A scoop next to your slice of birthday cake? Joyous. A scoop at 1am, watching reruns of shows that were awful the first time around while sleeplessly pondering life choices? A little sad, a little soothing. It’s nearly a weapon, the power ice cream holds for me. A weapon with Hershey’s syrup. As a kid, we rarely had ice cream in the house. Ice cream was birthday food. But then summer would arrive: ice cream season! For me, ice cream has always been about people, places… and Dad.

I spent most of my life in Southern PA. But for 4 long, dark years during middle school, I lived in Bath, Ohio. It was a beautiful area with great friends, but I was bullied. A lot. I don’t know if my folks knew, but was it a coincidence that during the bleakest times Dad would suggest, “Miniature golf?” Ice cream included was understood. My father is a man of few words. He’s a man who speaks through actions. But he’s a magician. He just knows. You don’t need to say a word, he just knows. He knows when ice cream needs to appear.

Yesterday, my father came to town. He visits twice a month to offer assistance, given my current condition. We visit the doctor, run errands, get haircuts… I’m 10 all over again. 10-year-old Dan. Only the 47-year-old version with the cane can’t keep up. Across the parking lot we see it at the same time. Dairy Queen.

“Want some DQ?”

“Yes!”

I won’t lie, it’s been an especially rough patch lately. But there it was…ice cream. And so I’m sitting across the table from Dad, and we’re talking. But I don’t hear a word he’s saying. His lips are moving, but my mind is somewhere else. I’m having ice cream in Bath, Ohio. I’m licking drips from a cone at a picnic table at Lake Winnipesaukee. I’m ordering a Blizzard at the DQ in Kennett Square. I’m in the parking lot eating ice cream in Winchester, VA. I’m 10 years old with Dad and a new haircut. And I know how lucky I am.

Ice cream is just ice cream. Right?

Nope. Just like Dad….it’s always there, and it’s magic. (You know this.)

wdq

 

I get it… by Dan Hines

Danny walks. An update from Dan, who is kind of miraculously, and certainly inspirationally, recovering from Guillain-Barré syndrome. He posted this video a few days ago, which prompted our exchange:

ME: You. Are. Walking

Dan: Sort of. The video you saw was the third try. The first two I fell.

ME: You know I want five paragraphs about that.

And here they are:

 

There’s a scene, a few actually, in the movie ‘What About Bob’ where a young boy stands on a dock. He’s staring at the water and all he wants to do is learn to dive. He wants it, doesn’t know how to do it, and is scared of it. Despite encouragement from Dad, Mom, Sister he continuously backs away, making excuses, and goes back to the house.

I get it.

Some of you know my story so I won’t go through it all, but it was 16 months ago when I last took any real steps on my own without some form of help. Whether it was a wheelchair, a walker, a cane, a therapist’s arm, or even a kitchen counter or wall. A few times in therapy, I was able to do it for, like, 5-6 feet– my therapist waiting in front of me, open-armed, like a mom teaching her baby how to walk. “Come on, I’ve got you’” ‘Cause I am, in fact, a giant baby.

When you go through something, anything really, you go through “the stages.” You know ’em. But there’s one they rarely mention, the one that really matters. It’s the, “Fuck it, I’ve had enough of this” stage.

December was a bit sad for me, personally, which made Christmas a bit tough. New Year’s Eve hit and I made the same declarations as everyone else, “This year will be different!’ I woke up January 1st, and I played the daily game:

“Am I wearing socks?’”

With peripheral neuropathy, you gotta check. I look down…I guessed wrong. Shit. This year is the same.

So January 23rd was a big day. I was growing frustrated. The wheels in my head were spinning. I was missing the things I once had: life, love, ability, purpose. I know my value, but was obsessing over my weakness. About 8:30pm, I reached the unspoken last stage.

“Fuck it. I’ve had enough of this.”

I get up, turn on the lights and set up my phone at the end of the hall. I head back into the kitchen, and turn around. I let go of the cane and the counter. And I start. I get 5 feet and BOOM, I’m on the ground. Now, since I can’t stand on my own, I crawl into the kitchen so I can use a chair to get back on my feet.

2nd try. This time, ten feet and… BOOM. Crawl to the kitchen, grab my cane, and head towards the phone. Like a coach at halftime, I need to review this. I think I see my mistake. I re-set the phone, press record, and start again. Third try’s more than a charm. It’s history.

 

So there the boy stands, on that same dock, with that same view, and those same fears. He knows what he has to do; it’s run through his mind a thousand times. Just dive, just dive, just dive. And from somewhere courage builds. He bends his knees, puts his hands in front him, takes a deep breath. And dives. That dock (the hallway), the unwitting stage.

“Fuck it. I’ve had enough of this.”

And I get it.