Whenever my sister and I heard Mother say the words “The Ice Cream Cone Story” we would start screaming. We had heard her re-tell the story so many times that we could both tell it by heart without leaving out one detail. The Ice Cream Cone Story was not one of Mother’s made-up memories, but an actual recounting of a horrible trauma she had endured in her early life (a trauma in her mind, at least).
And when Mother began re-telling it, which she would do at a moment’s notice and with absolutely no encouragement whatsoever, she would end up sobbing…hysterically. And loudly. The histrionics added nothing to the story, except for the fear my sister and I experienced thinking that any of our friends might be nearby.
Anyway, here is the ice cream cone story:
When my mother was about fourteen years old, her father gave her the money to take her little brother and sister out for an ice cream cone. Our mother Mary took both of them with her and purchased a cone for each of them as well as one for herself. Aunt Marty, who was three or four years old at the time, didn’t like the flavor she had (vanilla) and so she threw it on the ground.
She then started screaming and demanded Mary’s strawberry ice cream cone, which of course Mary refused. She also wanted Uncle Bob’s chocolate, but Mary wouldn’t let her have it. When they got home, Aunt Marty told her dad she had not received any ice cream. According to my mother, she did this to get my mother in trouble. Our grandfather asked my mother:
Why didn’t Marty get any ice cream?
My mother explained what had happened and Aunt Marty was sent to her bedroom.
By this point in the story, my mother would be sobbing and choking out the words
I just don’t know what is wrong with Marty.
My sister and I would think to ourselves:
Perhaps it was the fact that she was four years old.
I would also wonder:
How did my mother manage to remember every single detail?
One of my mother’s worst qualities was her ability to hold on very tightly to every wrong (perceived or real) she had ever experienced.
Mother loved to discuss her sister and the fact that the two of them could not get along. She blamed it on their wide age gap (ten years) and on their very different personalities. My sister and I couldn’t figure this last one out because in some ways they were two peas in a pod:
They both loved to scream and berate their children.
They both loved to take advantage of anyone’s hospitality for as long as possible: Aunt Marty once visited my sister and me for three weeks.
They both had a smart-ass personality although Aunt Marty was quite a bit more accommodating than Mary.
Finally, they both enjoyed fighting and talking behind each other’s backs.
At one point late in their adult lives, Aunt Marty finally got sick of my mother and said:
I’m not going to let her shit on me anymore.
That’s one more thing they had in common. They both loved to swear like sailors. Anyway, she stopped speaking to my mother and the last words she ever spoke to her were:
I’ll be back one more time, Mary. One more time.
These words meant that she would only see her again when Mary was dead, and she didn’t even see her then. Mother’s last memory of her sister is of her saying:
One more time…one more time.
Of course, my mother had related the ice cream story to Aunt Marty on numerous occasions. Aunt Marty didn’t pay that much attention to it since it was obvious that more than the ice cream was melting.