Summertime Summertime Sum-Sum-Summertime…

My mother has been ‘out of sorts’ and being treated for dehydration (may cause lack of appetite, dizziness, disorientation).  She was sleeping and I gently woke her.  “What time is it?” she asked, then glanced at the clock and gave me the look.  “When you say you’ll be here by late afternoon, you really mean late.”  I took this snarky remark as a sign she was feeling better, so we went out for a ride through the ‘old neighborhood’.

We took our time, meandering down sleepy, residential roads – past homes where friends once lived, past the church we once knelt in (though if you read last week’s blog, Mom was obviously not paying attention to Father Murphy), past Leonard’s Farm Stand where she used to buy our fresh produce.  I was surprised it was still there and almost caused an accident while pulling a u-turn, in hopes of finding native tomatoes.

As we drove, we both commented there were no children outside playing.  It was a warm, summer day and there were no kids on bikes, no hit the bat, no hop scotch or jump-rope.  For the most part, there wasn’t even an open front door.

I know I’m showing my age and trust me, I used to scoff at any conversation from my father starting with, “When I was a boy…” but, when I was girl growing up in this summer neighborhood, kids owned these streets and yards.

Now, here we were on a beautiful July afternoon and Mom says, “Where is everybody?  I don’t even see any ghosts.”  Then she started to sing, “Those were the days, my friend…” and together, “We thought they’d never end.”

This all sounds cliché, but when we pulled up in front of the old house, it looked like someone shrunk the front yard.  What happened to the miles we had to cross to get to the street and where was the weeping willow tree we used to climb and use as our ‘Ollie Ollie in free’.  Now its stump served as a table for a potted plant.  The house looked like something from a game of Monopoly and it was impossible to imagine a family of 7 (including 4 boys) living there.

Though next door to our old house was the town park and swimming pool.  Every summer day (unless there was lightening) we’d gulp down breakfast, let the screen door slam and off we’d go through the chain link fence until hunger or thirst brought us briefly back home again.  I think of my own grandchildren and there is no way…………….

I stepped out of the car and walked through the crooked gate, the path now overgrown and glass-strewn.  Not a child to be seen or heard.  The orange and green merry-go-round was gone and the empty space where it used to spin, just didn’t seem large enough for my memories.

One swing hung high from rusty bars and the slide was gone.  There were a few picnic tables in a cluster and I remembered Barbara, the park teacher (my first love) and her shrill silver whistle.  We wove pot holders my mother never used and braided lanyards my father would hang from the rear view mirror of his car.

I walked toward the pool and could hear white-nosed life guards yelling, “No running” and “Time out!” as we splashed and dashed from one end to the other.  It cost 10 cents for a 45-minute session and when the whistle blew, we’d reroll our towels into a long donut, stuff our bathing caps inside, leave them at the end of the line of kids waiting for the next session to begin and hurry off to the playground until the whistles sounded again.

Peering through the chain link fence, the pool looked tiny, paint peeled and cracked.  Instead of chlorine, it smelled of earth and decay.  I could not conjure my young self screaming as someone cannon-balled beside me or pushed me into the deep end.  I felt out of place, alone and old.  Those days and those kids were gone, the pool and playground empty.

Walking back to my car though, I smiled to hear the “thunk, thunk, thunk” of a basketball, somewhere beyond the trees and my mother’s voice through the car window, “Those were the days, oh yes, those were the days.”

For more information on dehydration and the elderly, go to http://www.caring-for-aging-parents.com/dehydration-in-the-elderly.html

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About hereisakiss

Daughter Writer Art's Educator
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7 Responses to Summertime Summertime Sum-Sum-Summertime…

  1. Robin Elizabeth Sampson says:

    Even when we moved here close to 19 years ago, I was told, by a neighbor, that parents didn’t let their kids wander. They had “play dates” and were driven. Special dispensation (and usually an adult chaperone) was required for them to walk down the street to a friend’s house. There was a lot of “stranger danger” worries then. Nowadays I see more kids walking and biking, but still, not a lot. We live a few doors down from the town park that has a pool. Our town had (and still has, but now that my kids are grown it doesn’t matter) a rule that kids under 12 could not be on the playground there alone. So, during my kids’ prime playground ages, I couldn’t let them walk up there by themselves to play (and I would have). Also, the town pool now costs $10 (without a pool pass that runs about $150) a day. And now being the only pool in town, it’s so jammed that it’s not pleasant (for me at least). When my kids were little, we did buy a pool pass and walk up in the afternoons (but then there were two pools in town and it wasn’t so packed). Yeah, “when I was a kid…”

  2. dale says:

    Really nice memory lane E

  3. Liz Maloney says:

    This is the first of your posts that I have the privilege of receiving…It seemed so strange to have shared memories of the very same pool and park…I do believe as a child I won a decorating your big toe contest,at that very same park…you brought back those childhood memories so very vividly with your post…Thankyou

  4. Judy Weinstein says:

    I SO love your blog. I was down the Cape last week with a dead cell phone – which turned out to be blissful – so I wasn’t able to comment on your wonderful blog of July 3 til now. I just smiled and shook my head. My mom’s 86 and knows that someday she’ll be happily reunited with my dad. But she doesn’t dwell on that except to point out that nearly all of her friends are six feet under…. Meanwhile as she said to the kidney doctor a couple of weeks ago: “I’m 86 and I play piano. And I have a lot of music and art still inside me and I’m not ready to go yet!” So while she was having a rather risky procedure done on June 13, I was at the baby grand piano in the lobby at Lahey playing her arrangements, sending good vibes down to the operating room. Turned out that a miracle did indeed occur, and the doc was able to get to her one kidney which is buried in her curvy back, and do a minimally-invasive procedure that got rid of her kidney stones. So now she’s again happily arranging big band ballads and carving birds. Although her style with me is very much like your mother’s, I realize how lucky I am that she’s still here and happy about it. Judy xoxo

    • hereisakiss says:

      So good to hear from you, Judy! Music and art and 86. I LOVE it! My mother’s roommate is kind of like that. She is a former teacher and artist and I love talking to her. Very positive attitude. I think though, my mother sometimes is jealous that I’m not talking to her instead. I am happy your mom’s procedure went well. Peace………………

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