The Summer I Grew Up

Summer has always been a season of firsts. First softball game playing second base for the “Jumpers” in my dyed-to-match-the-uniform Converse hi-tops. First time swimming in the deep end at Maude Neiding Pool. First summer job not related to the family business, working the late-night drive-through at McDonald’s. First real move after college to Cincinnati to work for a chauvinistic boss at Star Bank.
Always summer had been a pivotal season, catapulting me into a new realm where I understood, in an instant that my life had changed, as I rubbed out the dirt on the leather face of the softball, drove to my first outdoor summer concert in my dad’s Suburban or drank my first beer at a graduation party for someone three years older.
This summer has been no different.
The season opened late May with the graduation of our first daughter from Loyola of Chicago. I cheered and roared, while the Irish side of the family sat more reservedly.
To send one out into the world, gives one a sense of accomplishment and relief. You hold your breath as they pass through the portals of high school and college, and exhale a teensy bit when they saunter across the stage at graduation. You buy them a satchel for their first job, and relish in the comment, “I don’t need a gift, you gave me a college education.”
Following that occasion, Mark and I signed a design contract for a home in Over-the-Rhine, the neighborhood once famous for its riots ten years prior. But young people are flocking there, and though not young, we want to experience the rise of a once great town returning slowly to prominence as The Queen City. It will be many months before we move, but the architectural line has been drawn. We have made a statement to our children to carry on with their lives while we do so with ours.
At the start of summer, we shipped another daughter off to Tanzania, where she tracked rhinos, jumped over waterfalls and drank African beer. She created a blog to keep us abreast of her activities, and kept me in tears as I read her words, day after day, witnessing her growth and the cultivation of her writing voice.
The third daughter, whom we have hardly seen, has one foot out the door pointed in the direction of college next year, and the boy, we have shuttled back and forth while he experienced his first taste of summer jobs, as caddy and part-time baby-sitter.
During the span of July, we celebrated two fiftieth wedding anniversaries, one for Mark’s parents, one for mine. Alas, there will be one more this upcoming fall to remind us of our place.
Early summer, I had also begun the arduous process of locating the right care facility for my parents, as they age through Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. We continued our tour through the months, traipsing through some communities resembling museums, and others that felt one step away from the graveyard. As Mom and Dad relinquish their rights as parents, so am I letting go of being their child, so that I can make the decision that best suits their needs.
Early August, my husband and I celebrated our five-year anniversary. We no longer look at each other as two parents the Fates cast upon the sea together to traverse through the turbulent teenage years. I look at my husband now and see my partner, my equal.
As for my physical makeup, I have more flab behind me, and as a matter of fact, plan to create a Facebook page for “My Backside”, so my husband can still “like” it. Early to give birth to my son and to every party ever attended, I am now in early menopause, with no particular end in sight. And despite my best efforts, my triceps flap just a little so I pretend they are eagle’s wings.
In a sense, these sweltering months have still comprised a season of many firsts, the foremost being the first time I actually felt like an adult, and not just acted like one.
A little Bruce to end this piece:
Well, my feet they finally took root in the earth, but I got me a nice little place in the stars
And I swear I found the key to the universe in the engine of an old parked car
I hid in the mother breast of the crowd, but when they said, “Pull down,” I pulled up
Ooh… growin’ up
Ooh… growin’ up

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