Summertime makes many of us think about being a kid. The days lasts longer, afternoons stretch in to early evening and we ride our bikes after dinner. It’s easy to see why when the weather gets warm our minds drift towards our childhood. Summertime epitomizes the innocence of youth, the freedom and the recklessness and the joy we miss in the day to day of adulthood. I can almost bet it has been too long since you have gone down a hill on a bicycle with your hands in the air. But that feeling of being just a little bit scared and a lot excited – that’s summertime.
As a child I never thought about being a kid. In fact, summertime was quite the opposite. Summertime meant I was getting older. I was no longer in eighth grade, I was a “freshman.” I no longer swam 8 and under, I was a 9-10. Last year’s bicycle was too small, this year’s bikini is even smaller. Summertime was a hot and sweaty reminder that I was growing up.
This summer began with a trip up to DC. My grandmother has recently moved from Florida to DC to be closer to my mother. We were heading up to pick up her car as she has decided her driving days are better left in Florida.
I was in the back seat between the girls. They were both asleep. Mike was driving in silence. I had an overwhelming feeling of being an adult. I wasn’t the just the older sister anymore. I was a real grown-up. My two children, my sweet husband, going to visit my great-grandmother, I’m not sure what it was but I am certain the warm, night air played a part in evoking this feeling of passage.
The following morning I’d get a phone call that would solidify this feeling. As I was riding in silence with my family my father was being admitted to a hospital after a heart attack. In the following 72 hours he would discover he needed bypass surgery and I would board a plane with my youngest to meet him at the hospital.
Little girls do not drive to the airport at 5:30 am bound for a hospital. Young girls do not have conversations with their kids, apologizing for missing the last day of school party. Mothers of only small children do not ever have the chance to hear their oldest daughter say “Mom, I would do the same thing if I were you, Dad and I will be fine here. Go.” Young women do not close their eyes in a hotel room near a hospital, begging for sleep that will never come, praying that their father will be awake in the morning.
I am growing up. And so are my parents. And their parents. And so are my children.
This summer started like the summers of my youth. I got a little bit older the minute the temperatures started rising and the swimming pool opened. Unlike those summers from long ago – I don’t have my eyes on next summer already. I’d like to stay right here for a bit, where the days are long and the nights are longer and my family is all around me.
I’d always imagined that the winds of change were cold and blustering. But I think change comes in with the wind of summer thunderstorms. The warm sun on your shoulders and the welcomed shift in humidity makes you forget that the changes started with thunder and lightning.
Thank you all for your kind words and thoughts over the last week. My dad is a champ. His surgery went “as well as a bypass can go” according to his surgeon and he is already home. Here’s hoping the rest of the summer has fewer surprises.
A very, very big thank you to MQD for holding down the fort at home. You are such a good dad and an even more wonderful husband. Your support makes it easier for me to be the mother and the wife and the daughter I want to be. xo