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Getting to Yes

(by Shari Garmise)


“Is something wrong with Grandpa? He looks so thin.” I watched him through the

kitchen window, sitting in the sun. His Santa Claus belly had collapsed, the skin on his neck shriveled.

“No, he’s fine,” my mother said, her gaze never leaving the bread dough she pounded

like a punching bag. She rarely made bread, wasn’t much of a cook generally, but my sister and I loved it when she did. We knew it meant something when she pulled out the yeast, even if we never knew what.


I dragged my tattered red suitcase from the basement, letting the wheels bounce against the stairs as I climbed. My mother waited for me in my bedroom with my laundry folded and two ice cream sundaes on the nightstand.

I studied her. My mother never folded my laundry and told me treats made me fat. But

ice cream had always been in a class of its own—both a happy place and an offer of comfort and consolation when things went wrong. “Maybe I shouldn’t go to the shore. Grandpa seems….”

“No, he’s fine.” My mother handed me a sundae, her hand shaking. “It’s your senior

summer. You should go.”


I flew into the house, still flushed from too much sun and a week of junk food, bursting with stories of surfboards and volleyball games and senior boys.

My mom touched my cheek. “Grandpa’s in the hospital. Come. There’s fresh bread for

dinner, and we can make sundaes for dessert.”

Bread and sundaes? Bile burned my throat. “He’s dying, isn’t he?”

“No, he’ll be fine.”


“I’ll have my license in a few weeks. I can drive you home,” I told my grandfather, his

body so small and frail and wiry in the hospital bed, as if he lived in someone else’s form. I was lying about the license. I had failed my first driver’s test and didn’t assume I would pass the next one, but I wanted that future.

“No, no, no, no,” my papa said, “no” the only word the stroke let him keep.

My mother let me drive on the way back. “Grandpa knows he’ll never come home,” I said.

She stared out the window.

“Let’s get some ice cream,” I said. She didn’t respond.

I headed toward Baskin Robbins.


I was pulling out frozen pancake batter for dinner when my mother walked in the kitchen—her face ghost-white, her shoulders slumped, her mascara smudged. She sunk into a chair in the living room, wrapped her arms around her knees, dropped her head and cried.

“Grandpa’s dead?”

My mother nodded into her knees.

“He’d been dying all summer.” My voice came out as a whisper.

“Yes,” my mother said. “Yes.”


Shari Garmise is an executive director, writer, and single mother who lives in Richmond, Virginia. She can be found at and on Facebook.

Mocha Chip Ice Cream

(no machine needed)

14 oz. sweetened condensed milk

1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

2 T. espresso powder

1 t. vanilla extract

pinch of salt

1 pt. heavy cream

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Chill a metal bread pan (you can also use ice cube trays)

Whisk together condensed milk, cocoa powder, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt.

In another bowl, whip heavy cream with a mixer on medium-high until peaks form.

Fold half the heavy cream into the bowl with the other ingredients.

When combined, fold into the bowl with the remaining cream until fully combined.

Pour mixture in the chilled pan. Cover and freeze for two hours.

Remove pan from freezer, swirl in the chocolate chips, cover, and freeze for at least 3 more hours.


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