When my sister and I write about our mother Mary or our stepmother Beatrice, you probably think they were both horrible, selfish women. And you would thikn correctly on that count. But each of them did actually have another side–one they showed on rare occasions to the world and on even rarer occasions to my sister and me.
One such memory concerns Beatrice and her fondness for car rides. When I would visit Dad and Beatrice in the summer (and, after Dad’s death, later just Beatrice), she would say:
Let’s drive down to Tuscola.
Driving to Tuscola, a small near-by town, did not in any way ensure that you would be stopping by any of the cute little shops located in the town. That decision was completely up to Beatrice’s whim of the moment and you might find yourself standing in a delightful place called “The Old Brick Wall” instead. Or you might continue on a long and winding never-ending car trip filled with Beatrice and her stories.
One thing that was sure to happen was that you would be stopping for a chocolate coke. If you have never had a chocolate coke, you should go and get the ingredients immediately and make it as you read the directions.
- Take a large glass and load it with ice.
- Take a bottle or can of Hershey’s chocolate syrup and pour a very generous amount.
- Pour Coke (actually Beatrice and I preferred diet) over the top and stir with a spoon.
This is a treat I have had with Beatrice on many occasions. We often stopped at the Dairy Queen for this very enjoyable drink. Any time I have a chocolate coke, I am reminded of Beatrice…and in a good way.
Her favorite place to stop for lunch (after the exhausting morning spent driving around) was a place I called “The Trough.” This was a little restaurant run by Mennonite women (who as you may know dress in a plain style and cover their hair), and all the food was served buffet style. They had numerous crockpots plugged into numerous outlets and the smell of fried chicken and other assorted fried meats assailed your nose as soon as you walked in. Forget trying to be on a diet. This place was like the Last Supper for the Biggest Loser.
If I said I didn’t want to order the buffet and instead wanted a turkey sandwich from the menu, Beatrice began pouting. She would go up to the assorted foods and select a giant plate of everything. Then she would announce to me that my sandwich would not be available until she was finished eating. The funny thing was that she was usually right and I finally gave up and began trying to make some good choices from the many calorie-laden foods presented. For dessert, this restaurant did have something called Cinnamon Pudding that was delicious.
My favorite story concerns a time when we had stopped and one of the Mennonite women mentioned that she thought Beatrice’s sweater was too bright.
The day I take fashion advice from a Mennonite woman will be the day I give up.
Beatrice told me. She was always one with the snappy come-backs and a chocolate coke in one hand.