The Gifted Blog

November 27, 2013

A Nutty Bar for Grandpa

For my fellow Americans, hope you have a great Thanksgiving! I wrote this post a year ago and finally got to finishing it. Many thanks to Betsy for her input.

Behold, the Nutty Bar. An iconic taste of summer trips to Iowa, my husband's home state. What is a Nutty Bar, you ask? A block of Blue Bunny vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate, rolled in chopped peanuts and eaten off a stick. Nothing fancy. But so, so good.

I had my first Nutty Bar when I was only G's girlfriend. It was my first visit to the heartland and I was freaking out. Not only was I meeting my future parents-in-law for the first time, but I was confronting my stereotypes about the Midwest, feeling self conscious about being Asian-American, and repeatedly failing to "get up" on waterskis (a mortifying experience that would end in victory...another trip and about 20 fails later). G, his dad and I took a boat ride to the Nutty Bar stand where I was treated to my first Nutty Bar.

No caramelized pecans, cacao nibs or organically grown coconut chips topping this frozen treat. No artisanally hand-churned salted caramel, honey-lavender, or chai spiced ice cream inside. Just a simple combination as American as a Norman Rockwell painting.

Three summers ago, we brought G's grandpa out to the Nutty Bar stand with my in-laws. A generous man, Grandpa Stan announced that he was treating and handed G five bucks. G's dad told him we'd need a bit more to cover treats for the six of us.

Yum. Grandpa polished off his first with a relish and said loudly, "I'll have another." Check out that grin!

Our visit the next summer was different than usual. Grandpa was in the hospital instead of the nursing home, fighting a stubborn case of pneumonia. Some combination of us visited every day, dropping off library books or just saying hello.

A few years ago I read the book Passages in Caregiving. I learned many of us will find ourselves in the position of caring for a loved one at the end of their lives, and can have a deep impact on the quality of their final years. It made me want to contribute what I can to my grandparents' happiness.

Like bringing Grandpa a Nutty Bar. We packed one up in a cooler and ice packs from the lake cottage and, by boat and by car, brought it to him. (But not before enjoying our own first.)

He hadn't had an appetite for anything that day, but this Nutty Bar was a goner.

About two and a half weeks after our trip, we got news that Grandpa passed away. He was on a lot of oxygen but well enough to be back in the nursing home. The day before he'd spent time at one of his favorite places, the family lake cottage. G's mom and uncle made dinner for him and he sat out on the porch to enjoy the view. He'd gotten up that morning and had a cinnamon roll and coffee in his room. The staff helped him into his big easy chair, and I think that's where he passed.

It just feels like such a gift that we were able to see him in his last days. Grandpa Stan, we will remember you as a pillar of your community and a man who got things done. We'll remember you for the swear words that peppered your speech even when the great-grandkids were in earshot. And we'll remember your sweet tooth. Thanks for your appetite for life.

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{First image by Kerry n Tony L. via Yelp}

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