Memorial Day and Labor Day are the bookends of summer. This morning I found a couple old journal entries I had written about twelve years ago. The first one was written at the end of the day on Memorial Day, the second was written after I put the children to bed on on Labor Day.
“Memorial Day is nearly over. The speeches and parades and remembrances at the cemetery are past and so are the backyard grill out and the family ball game. As a child I never would have thought to feel quietly sentimental on an evening like this but as I sip a cup of herb tea this evening I have a sense of anticipation. Memorial Day is a kind of passage into summer. This week will be the last of school and lengthening days will move the family out into the garden and the flower beds and the porch.
We will enjoy the sunsets and bird songs and smell the flowers and freshly cut grass. We will listen to the enchanting sounds of summer nightfall. We will stay up later and feel closer as a family. There will be more time to laugh and play together, to teach Holly to hit a baseball and throw-not “like a girl.” We will take some trips, hopefully, with a little variety. We will notice natural beauty and linger at points of historical import and spend less time this year at the “traps” which leave you feeling empty and defrauded.
The children love nothing more than an unhurried time of swinging and sliding and merry-go-rounding at the park. We’re going to ride bikes and foot race and hold hands and walk barefoot along the beach and look into each other’s eyes more this summer.
In short we are going to do the things we will be glad we did twenty years from now. We are going to grow our tomatoes and eat them like apples on summer afternoons. We are going to grow a patch of sweet, sweet, sweet corn and gobble it with butter dripping off of our chin and we ‘re not going to worry about cholesterol.
It is so hard not to spend our lives getting ready to live, always getting ready to go and never really going.”
That summer and the twelve summers that have followed it passed swiftly like the one we just enjoyed. At the end of the summer I found another journal entry:
“I just returned from the children’s rooms and my heart is full. The summer is now officially over. Memorial Day is gone and Labor Day has come and gone and the days in between flew by in a whir. We were not able to do all the things we wanted to do this summer but it has been a full one.
Today I took my precious little Holly’s training wheels off her bike and we all laughed as we watched her wobble through the yard and around the driveway. Last night Kyle ran into a telephone pole and almost knocked his two upper front teeth out. His nose swelled up and this morning while flying through the yard on his bike he nearly finished the job of removing his teeth. (I was secretly relieved that they didn’t come out yet because I don’t have a penny to slip under his pillow). Chuck was sitting up in his bed with a pillow propped up behind his head reading a book, ” ‘Cause that’s what Dad does.” Heidi pronounces, “cookies” with a “th” sound on the end.
After a day of running and jumping and riding and tussling and picnicking at Grandma and Grandpa’s they all tumbled willingly into bed and by now I’m sure they are all in their own little dream worlds. I just hope tonight their little hearts and dreams are as full and happy as mine. I’m sure there isn’t a dad in the world that is any more grateful to God for his little ones than I am.
The last day of summer slipped away today and each day is becoming more fall-like. Tonight we have traveled another passage of life and we all crawl into bed with our hearts full of happiness and our minds full of plans for tomorrow.”
(From Stonebridge Newsletter – Number 50)