Summer is bittersweet in so many ways. We savor the days of sunshine and days of gentle rain, while at the same time realizing the danger of sunburned skin, strong storms, tornadoes, flooding and hurricanes. Summer is a season where we slow down a bit, take time off, and let our minds wander; our thoughts blowing through our brains like those white puffy clouds the wind pushes and changes as they move across the deep blue sky on a hot afternoon. As my memories meander around in my head I realize that it is this time of the year when I miss my parents the most. Most people I talk to about their parents once they have passed on say they miss them most around the winter holidays—Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Eve, or around Mothers Day and Fathers Day. Those days do have a poignant emptiness to them once your parents are no longer here but for me it’s the summer time that leaves me with an emptiness quite unfillable.
It was in the summer that we seemed to have the most fun with our parents. Whether it was a family game of softball in the field across the street, a trip to explore and picnic at Tillman’s Ravine, or a trip to visit my aunt at the shore we did it together on the weekend. During the week, my mother packed picnic lunches of cheese sandwiches, iced tea and vegetable sticks and we walked up the street where there was forest now many houses) where we walked through the coolness of the trees and stopped at “Diamond Rock” for lunch. Other days we’d simply yell into the house through the screen door to let Mom know we were going to a friend’s house, bike riding, or to the playground. She was always there; she was our anchor as we navigated our way through childhood. The evenings were spent either sitting together in lawn chairs on the porch drinking lemonade and talking and laughing about whatever four kids and two adults would, or playing games; usually either Scrabble or Rummy. Even after we were all grown, when I visited my parents Mom was always ready with the Scrabble board or a deck of cards once the dinner dishes were washed and put away. She was really hard to beat as she knew so many words and was a strategic player of letters. In Rummy she always seemed to get the cards she needed, I don’t know how she did it but she usually reached 500 before anyone else was even close. Those were such nice times, the cool of the evening, a citronella candle on the picnic table, glass of iced tea, and a quiet game which invited casual conversation and fostered a closeness of which there is no comparison.
Summer, for me, is the time I most wish my parents were still here. It’s the time that I feel the loss of them the most, yet I have to smile at all the happy memories I have of those long lazy summers.