When I was younger I had somehow gained the impression that a banana split was the ultimate ice cream experience. I am not sure how I came to that conclusion. Maybe it was from a cartoon or a friend. Maybe it was just the name, Banana. Split. That still sounds so…ultimate, so cool. I really had no idea what it was other than it was the best and that someday I was going to have one.
At some point in my childhood I remember that my Aunt Sue and her first husband Terry had their own ice cream shop. I don’t remember this being as huge of a deal as it should have been though. I just remember one day we went to an ice cream shop and my Aunt Sue was allowed to go behind the counter. First of all, that was cool enough. Ice cream shops were owned by some secret cabal of ice cream makers that drove the trucks and lived in the North Pole or something. To find out that somebody I knew, a relative, Aunt Sue, had an ice cream shop…whoa. It blew my mind.
As we got settled in the booth, Aunt Sue asked, “So kiddo, what do you want?” The answer was obvious. One banana split, coming up. I think my mom was unsure if I would be able to handle the sheer awesome that is a banana split. I remember her trying to convince me to get something smaller. Nope, sorry, thanks. Nothing was going to stop me.
When it came to our table, I remember being surprised that, OMG! there is actually a banana in the plastic boat/bowl thingy and it is actually split down the the middle. It was cover with ice cream, and not just one but 3 DIFFERENT FLAVORS!!, and whipped cream and nuts and Chocolate!! I remember thinking how amazing it was to serve ice cream like this. Why had they kept this from me for so long!?
I don’t remember much more after that. I guess we drove home. Maybe that was enough excitement for me for one day. I don’t remember what she said as we were leaving, but I bet it was, “So long, kiddo!” She always said that to me when we parted. I have lots of memories of my Aunt Sue, but whenever I imagine her saying good-bye, she almost always said it the same way. Even 2 years ago when I visited her in St. Louis.
That was the last time I saw her.
Aunt Sue died this morning after a long and painful battle with cancer. I spoke with her briefly on the phone in April. She had just gotten the all clear from her doctor, that the cancer was in remission and she could go on with her life and her family. Not even a month ago, the cancer had suddenly returned with such a merciless ferocity and it had spread all over the place. I wish I had talked to her a little longer, but it was just a quick hello, howya doing type of thing. Shoulda, coulda, woulda.
Whenever I think of banana splits, I always think of Aunt Sue and her ice cream shop.
So long, kiddo.
I’m going to miss you , Aunt Sue.