Wednesday, July 20, 2011
The Best Summer and the Worst Summer
On July 4th, I think about two things. I think about when I went up to Jersey to help take care of my mother for a month. She was so sick, I think I knew she wasn’t going to make it. I went outside on her porch for a cigarette. In the beginning of that month, she was coming out there with me and we were smoking together. But on July 4th, she was in the hospital and I was out there alone. I heard my father’s TV inside the house. I heard the fireworks in the distance and I saw a few over the horizon. People celebrating. Life going on. While I was out on the porch smoking and my mother was dying.
Then, it also makes me think of July 4th, 1976, the Bicentennial. It was the day I brought home my first pony. The family was having a barbecue in the backyard. I tied the pony to the chain-link fence on the front lawn, went into the yard and announced, “Guess what followed me home?”
My mother said, “Oh no Debi, not another dog.”
I said, “It’s not a dog. Come see.”
The family swarmed around him. A horse! It’s a horse! I think they let me keep him because of the novelty of it. My father tried to feed him a hamburger. “They’re vegetarians Dad!” I cried. That’s how much my family knew about horses. But my father got to work building a little barn, one of those 10 X 10 Dutch colonial sheds they sell outside the home improvement stores, and my mother would get Cherokee hay, one bale at a time, and transport it home in the trunk of her Dodge Dart.
Cherokee didn’t make it either. He died right before Christmas. But it was the best summer of my life.
So the best summer is intertwined with the worst summer.
Now I realize I had the worst summer, because I had the best summer. It wouldn’t have been so terrible if I had a mother who wouldn’t let me keep that pony. I wouldn’t miss her so much if she hadn’t been that great.