Lay as if new created in all the freshness of childhood."
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Memorial Day weekend, although not technically summer yet, always rings in the summer season for me. Of course, it's the inaugural weekend of the Madison Community Pool in my hometown of Madison, NJ. It's the weekend that throngs of children and their weary parents have been waiting for – ready for a break and some freedom splashing, doing handstands, playing Marco Polo, and eating ice cream while sitting on a wet towel. As I lay here in my hammock writing this, my parents are probably there at the pool now, living out another one of thousands of warm summery days they - and I - have spent there. Yes, at this moment, my dad is probably floating on his back flashing my mom a goofy grin as only his toes and head stick out of the water. And surely my mom is doing her water aerobics, the ever-present side ponytail bouncing in the wind.
Usually Steven and I travel up to New Jersey in autumn now (a season which is equally memorable there in its own way), and it's been several years since I was in Madison in the summer, for one of my mom's impeccably-planned Moonlight Swims, as she is the pool's social director. But this year, I get to travel home in June, and the main thing I'm looking forward to is going to the Madison Pool. I'm already imagining how wonderful it will be to swim underwater exploring the thousands of square feet of underwater caverns, just like I did when I was 10.
You see, a few weeks ago, we found out my dad's health was threatened, and I am going home to New Jersey to be there during his surgery. It's not the greatest reason to return home, but I'm really anticipating this trip in an odd way. It's scary to face one of your parents potentially being ill, and there's something about it that forces you to see life differently, to say the least. The wonderful news is that after the surgery, my dad should be well. But now, I hold even more tightly to memories of him. Swimming with my dad, bracing myself on his slippery back as he toted me around the pool like a submarine, is one of my favorite memories. And I hope I get to enjoy summer with him for many more years until he is old and his Cheech Marin mustache is gray and he can still carry me on his back in the water.
I'm off to my friend's pool with Steven, to drink some icy cold cream soda with my feet dangling in the water. Wishing you rest and joy this weekend as you anticipate summer, wherever you are.