As usual, I was out of town on holiday. This holiday, however, would be far from usual. It was a warm, sunny, Easter Sunday in Juarez, Mexico. I sat on the plaza in front of a large church. My friends Patrick, Debbie and I wanted to attend Easter Sunday services but there were too many steps to get into this church. Rather than have my friends carry me up the steps. I told them I would just wait outside for them, soaking up the sun.
I don’t know how long I was sitting there, observing all the Easter decorations, all the people wearing their finest Easter clothes, the vendors hawking everything from flowers to ice-cream, the mariachis rounding out the ambiance.
My casual observations were interrupted by a little girl, perhaps no more than 6 years of age. She was holding an ice-cream cone and saying something to me in Spanish. I couldn’t speak Spanish then and, it became clear, she didn’t speak English.
I regretted not studying Spanish in college. Science majors were encouraged, instead, to study German. Besides, growing up in Cleveland, I was among more German speaking people than Spanish. I wondered what the chances were of this little girl speaking German.
She held up her ice-cream cone, gesturing to me. I think she wanted to hand it to me. I used my best sign-language to indicate I couldn’t use my hands. This persistent little tike wouldn’t give up. She held the ice-cream cone up so I could lick it. Then she took a turn licking it. We took turns sharing the ice-cream cone until it was all gone. When we finished the ice-cream cone my Ice-Cream Angel disappeared as mysteriously as she appeared.
That Easter Sunday a child and I shared something more than an ice-cream cone. She touched my heart in a way I’ve never experienced. I don’t know if she remembers that day but I know I’ll never forget it.
Since then, I have used the term “Ice-cream Angel” to describe any refreshing person, situation or event that gives me a revitalized prospective on life.