Saturday, July 17, 2010
Yesterday was a classic mid-July sort of day; the kind of day where there is very little change in the mercury after sunset, the humidity makes everyone as lazy as cats, and the best solution to the sweltering heat would be to play hooky, plop your ass into a big old tire tube, and float around a lake until you're as wrinkled as a raisin, preferably eating an ice cream cone while the current carries you along.
Despite the steamy conditions, there was a barbecue last night to celebrate my Aunt's birthday in backyard of the Big Old House that has been in my family for as long as we all can remember. It was the house that belonged to my grandparents--a comfy, well-worn, two-family home on a big corner lot--and each and every one of us have memories of growing up there. My grandparents raised my father and my aunt there, my brothers and I began our lives in that home, my cousins were always staying over, family was always weaving in and out. Years later, both of my brothers at separate times lived downstairs from my grandmother, and as a result, my nephews and nieces got to connect with the home the same way that we did when we were young. My Grams died two years ago and since then my cousin and his wife have lived there with their two children, but as I have posted before, my grandmothers spirit is still very much a part of that house.
For me, it's bittersweet going back to Parsons Street as it seems like just yesterday my grandmother was there with us in the backyard, 'racing us' across the lawn, around the big Azalea bush and back again--always letting us win, hanging her laundry out to dry on the clothesline, tending to her garden. In that home--with my family around me--I always felt safe and protected. Last night I got to taste a bit of those sweet summer memories once again as I ran around the yard barefoot with the first generation, the second generation, and the next generation that is growing up in and around the house. We barbecued, played baseball, caught fireflies, shot water pistols, and later in the evening we went upstairs to the dining room table--the dining room where we've shared more meals than any of us could ever count--to sing Happy Birthday to my Aunt. In my minds eye I flashed back to this scene repeated a hundred times before; it was so familiar and comforting that I never wanted the night to end.
As I drove home in my Jeep, my mind wandered to the things that are truly important in my life, and how those things seem to be evolving as I grow older. I don't buy 'stuff' for myself any more; I now care more about experiences with people I love, rather than possessions I don't need. In fact, I would give away everything I own to simply have time stand still, and for everyone in my family to be exactly where they are at this very moment....
In Long Beach.
Down the Jersey Shore.
In a car driving to Medieval festival.
Sitting on a deck beneath the warm summer sun.
Paddling on a kayak.
Tending a garden.
Driving in a Jeep with the top down.
Running barefoot after a toddler in the backyard.
...frozen in time on a sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-July, enjoying life and appreciating it's simple pleasures, because we were fortunate enough to grow up learning such things in that beautiful backyard on the very edge of Parsons Street, my grandmother watching over us as we laughed, love overflowing.