Monday, September 22, 2008

CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL















This article is by Kathy Whirity. Kathy is a newspaper columnist who shares a Summer memory with her readers. She is also a contributor to the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series. I liked it so much, I wanted to share it with you.
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NEVER GROWING OLD

It was a question that had me asking a question of my own.

A recent article I read posed the question: If you could relive a summer memory what would it be?

On this lazy summer's afternoon the musings of my middle age mentality have me asking a question of my own. How can you choose just one?

A trip down memory lane brought me back to a tree lined street in the Roseland community -- a quaint and quiet neighborhood where we lived until I was about 12 years old.

Across the railroad tracks from our home was an indoor pool. My brothers, sister and I would often go swimming there.

One afternoon, as I ran across the tracks from the "Pump" as we called it, I saw my dad in the backyard, the contents of a kiddie pool strewn about the lawn.

Patience was not a virtue that my dad possessed, which is why our pool was the only pool in the neighborhood whose liner was clamped down with clothes pins.

When filled to the rim the shallow water reached right below my knees. But it didn't stop us from splish-splashing away many hot summer days.

My dad also loved having barbecues, though he was far from a genius at the grill. He'd make a grand production but the result would always yield the same result -- hamburgers the size and consistency of charcoal and hot dogs that ended up resembling beef jerky.

I do remember his milk shakes being the best. He'd dump a half gallon of ice cream in the big green mixing bowl and add milk and chocolate syrup. Then he'd mix it all with the hand mixer and ladle it into the tall fancy glasses usually reserved for company. Dad tried his best despite his dysfunction in cooking. And, besides, it wasn't about the food as much as it was about the togetherness of family.

Sunday mornings were always special when grandma spent the weekend. She'd stand at the stove, in her flowered duster, and make us German pancakes. They were crepes we'd spread with butter, sprinkle with sugar, roll up and eat. They were so good!

It's been more than 40 years since I've tasted one of her breakfast specialties, but all I have to do is close my eyes and I can see her standing there at the stove. With that memory, the word "comfort" food takes on a whole new meaning.

Long car rides were also an adventure we'd do as a family on summer evenings. Our dad would do the driving while we kids would sit in the back seat, with all the windows rolled down as our hair would blow carefree in the soft, warm wind of the season. We'd cap the evening off with a trip to the penny candy store where everything really was a penny.

Many a mid summer's morning you could find mom standing at the ironing board. She'd fill a Pepsi bottle with water and attach a big plastic flower petal, with tiny holes, to the top of the bottle. She'd sprinkle the clothes with water, wipe her brow with a hankie as she'd continue pressing out the wrinkles on clothes, long before the concept of permanent press apparel became popular

Our bed time treat rarely varied. After baths were taken, mom would place a pint of ice cream on the table. She always sliced it into 4 perfect slices, one for each of us.

The question the author posed about choosing one memory to relive has opened a flood gate of memories too many to choose from.

If I had a choice, I think I'd rather opt for one more day to spend with my family in that house on 104th place in Roseland. To smell the Lillies of the Valley that grew wild and untouched in the front yard. To catch lightning bugs in the backyard and bike ride around the block, with my little brother teasing me and my friends because we couldn't leave the block.

What I wouldn't give, as an adult, to sit on the old back porch and sip a milk shake my dad had made especially for me.

To laugh with my grandma and to have a chat with my mom -- if she could be as she was and I could be who I am now. (I'd have a lot of thanking to do.)

It's a gift to reclaim a sense of our summer's youth. While we can't relive the past, it's a blessing to know, that through memories, we never really grow old.
~ Kathy Whirity ~