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Bud Grossmann’s
Words of the Week
for the Week of
June 5, 2016
Published as a Gramma Letter
dated June 6, 1995.

© 1995, 2016 by Bud Grossmann.
All Rights Reserved.

Eliz (1995 & 2012)
  Eliz (1995 & 2012)
© 1995 & 2012 by Bud Grossmann


Tuesday, June 6, 1995

Dear Gramma,

      A little while after Dave and Liz got home from school one warm afternoon last week, I was working at my desk, when I became aware that Elizabeth, our first grader, was making no noise. Ordinarily I could expect her to be singing at the top of her lungs or issuing orders to our dog or playing recorded music in the living room. But I heard no sound at all. So I went looking for my little girl.

      I found her in the kitchen, sitting on a low stool on the throw rug in front of the sink. With her left hand she gripped an oversized coffee mug out of which, with her right hand, she was daintily spooning fudge revel ice cream. I say “daintily” because the spoon was a long-handled iced tea spoon that holds only a tiny quantity at a time. Eliz was patiently transferring her fudge revel from mug to mouth. But I don’t want you to mistake “dainty” for “tidy.” No, Eliz was reveling in the fudge revel; she had it all over her lips, cheeks, chin, and shirt front.

      On the bare ceramic tile floor beside the throw rug, exactly where our dog sometimes snoozes, the ice cream box rested, wide open. It was a half-gallon carton with one long edge unzipped and with the top folded back like the lid of a treasure chest. Softened ice cream filled the carton to about the halfway mark. Melting frost glistened on the kitchen floor.

      “So there you are!” I said.

      “Hello, Daddy!” replied my daughter. “Would you like some?”

      I told her, “No, thank you, sweetheart. Ice cream is poison to me.”

      I suppose, Gramma, that such a statement—that ice cream is poison to me—might sound almost blasphemous to you, a citizen of The Dairy State. But, alas, it is true: I have a medical condition called lactose intolerance. My son has it, too. Our tummies can’t seem to digest milk products efficiently. Dealing with lactose intolerance is not as troublesome, Gram, as your own accommodation to diabetes, and my “falling off the wagon” would not be as hazardous as if you quit watching your diet, but I have indeed changed some of my eating habits.

      For years I endured frequent abdominal pain before I figured out the probable source of the problem. My stomach first began to act up during my freshman year at college, when I took reckless advantage of the all-you-can-eat-and-drink policy in the campus dining hall. I enjoyed rich chocolate milk with every meal, but I never connected the sin with the punishment. Neither did the doctors I consulted that year. They looked for an ulcer, and when they didn’t find one, they told me perhaps “stress” was bringing on my symptoms. They advised me, “Don’t take your college work too seriously.”

      I was delighted to receive that counsel, and I carefully followed it. But my abdominal discomfort continued for some years until I married Frances and we eventually had a son who got sick from milk. When I joined Dave in a dairy-restricted diet, just to keep him company, I discovered, to my amazement, that my belly behaved better.

      I cut way back on ice cream, but I never gave it up entirely. Total abstinence would be too much of a good thing. So, last week, after I declined my daughter’s kind offer of an illegal before-supper snack, I waited for her to tempt me again.

      “It’s real good, Daddy,” she said.

      It certainly looked good. “Well,” I said, “maybe I’ll have a small bowl of it.” But I thought I heard a whisper of disapproval, as if someone named Conscience had placed her lips against my ear. I almost changed my mind again. But then I said, “I think, Elizabeth, I better eat this with a small spoon, just like yours.”

– • –
      Gram, I got a wonderful letter from Aunt Ferne a few days ago. I have started sending her, and some other people, copies of these letters that I write each week to you. Bye for now.


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