This afternoon I went home again, sort of. Not physically, but with the help of http://www.411.com. I found the phone number of one of my childhood neighbors.
Tom, his older brother Jim (who’s my age), and I spent many summers hanging out together. So, feeling somewhat nostalgic, I decided to call my pals and catch up on their lives. The last time I saw them was 17 years ago when I was getting ready to move down here to South Carolina. As Tom and I, and then Jim and I, chatted it felt like the years were melting away. Suddenly I could see the tree in their side yard that I slid down the trunk of and ended up with stitches in the back of my thigh. And I could see Jim’s face turn 3 shades of green when he saw the blood. I never felt a thing until the doc put in the stitches. And I could hear Tom telling their dad how to stop the bleeding. He was only 8, but he must have known even back then that he was going to be a doctor when he grew up. And on and on and on.
Their parents were my 2nd set of parents for as long as I can remember, even though I called them Uncle Frank and Aunt Marge. (They were too close to be Mr. & Mrs., but out of respect I couldn’t and wouldn’t call them by their first names.) Their older sister, Judy, called me twice since I moved down here. The first time was to tell me that their mom had passed away; the second, a few years later, to tell me that their dad had passed away. I remember crying over the loss of both of them. It was almost like losing my own parents all over again. But time marches on.
And more memories. The summer between our 4th and 5th grade years, Jim and Tom had pet rabbits. I remembered that the three of us used to call the rabbit turds “coffee beans” and that reminded me of another day in our lives. Jim and I sat near each other in Mr. Pressler’s 5th grade classroom at Sunrise Park Elementary School. One day the teacher was giving us a social studies lesson about farmers growing different food products and he mentioned coffee beans. Jim and I turned to look at each other and started laughing at the images we both had of the rabbit turds. The teacher was not amused and we both ended up in the principal’s office because we just couldn’t stop laughing. Thankfully, my mom was not home, so the principal called Uncle Frank, who immediately came up to school to get us out of trouble. (Good ole Uncle Frank! He was always protecting us kids from the wrath of our mothers!) Once we were able to stop laughing, Jim & I were sent back to class while Uncle Frank explained our case of the sillies. Then, before we got home from school that afternoon, he waited for my mom to get home from work and explained to her what had happened, ending with something like “so don’t be too hard on Susie.” I got a little bit of a lecture, but nowhere near as bad a one if it hadn’t been for Uncle Frank. You see, my mom was a teacher (she tutored the home-bound kids) so whenever one of her own kids got in trouble at school, it was punish first ask questions last.
So many memories came back to me from just those two phone calls yesterday. Funny ones, mostly. I choose to keep the sad ones tucked away where they can’t change my normally upbeat state of mind.
Going home again, sort of, made me feel both happy and a little melancholy. Happy in the memories; but melancholy in the reality that those wonderful, childhood days are gone forever. We had so much fun back in those carefree, devil-may-care days when the only people who worried about the future were some of the adults around us! Now we’re the adults, who, if we’re honest with ourselves, sound a lot like our own parents did way back when.