I believe in 4 scoops of ice cream, 2 cups of milk, a tablespoon of malt, and some chocolate syrup. I believe in milkshakes.
As a young girl, my dad was my hero, my fan, and my friend. And as best friends do, we shared secrets. He wouldn’t tell my mom that I skipped Sunday school to go ride the horses, and I wouldn’t tell her that he took me. He promised not to tell my brother that I put the salamander in his bed; I promised not to tell that it was his idea.
However, there was one secret that he kept from me until I was ready to receive it. I had seen this secret turn frowns upside down. It brought teenagers out of their bedrooms. It peeled eyes off of Donkey Kong. It dissolved dire amounts of contention. Man, I thought it was the cure for everything. Coveted by all, experienced by many, and known by one, it was my Dad’s secret milk shake recipe.
When I finally got to be the heir to this art, he said it was because I had come of age. I knew that he had simply lost all resistance to my big brown eyes. Milk shake building became our thing: One not without the other, nor the other without the one. Building. “Men don’t make or cook things. They build them.” As we went on building milkshakes, which were a vehicle to our happiness, things were also were being built in his body, which were the vehicle to his death. The secret that he wasn’t going to make it was the last one that he kept from me.
My dad died of cancer at the age of forty-two. For the three painful years that he battled it, I was his milk shake manufacturer. I believe in milk shakes. Beliefs stem from knowledge.
I know that he woke up and smiled every time I touched his hand with a cold glass. I know that his favorite flavor was a chocolate and raspberry blend. I know that nearing the end those were the only things he would eat. I know that he probably didn’t eat even half of the overwhelming amount I would make in a day, but I know that he pretended because he saw and appreciated the real ingredients that I put in them: Four cups of love, two cups of compassion, a tablespoon of my desire to serve, and some chocolate syrup.
I believe in milkshakes because of their variability of ingredients and their common goal. I haven’t used the secret milkshake recipe since my dad passed away. I now use my own. I volunteer. I donate blood. I raise money. I pick up hitchhikers. I listen. I give bear hugs. I bring chicken noodle soup. I do whatever it takes to meet that common goal of milkshakes: leaving the consumer better off than they started.
Hand out milkshakes to family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers; this I believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.