Some of my fondest memories took place during my childhood summers. The school year never ended before June 15th, unless that date was a Saturday or Sunday. The exception was my high school graduation which took place on June 9th, a week earlier than the rest of the students. Those last couple of weeks dragged, not only for us students, but for the teachers, as well. The hot, humid days with rarely a breeze blowing through the open windows, were hardly conducive to paying attention as hard as the teachers tried to keep us engaged. The last bell on the last day before the long break was met with shouts of joy as summer could begin in earnest.
My youthful summer memories take me back to many wonderful days. My mother tried to plan outings to keep from hearing my sister and I whine that we were bored. Living in a suburb of Washington, DC, there were many places to visit and cultural events to attend. I loved when relatives or friends came to visit because that meant several days of sightseeing. Even though we had been to most of them, there was always a new exhibit at the Smithsonian museums. Mount Vernon, the Capitol, White House, Washington Monument, Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, Folgers Theatre, the National Zoo, and so many other incredible places always made for wonderful days.
Summer also meant taking in a Washington Senators baseball game or two, sitting on the steps next to the Arlington Memorial bridge listening to the National symphony play at what was called the Watergate concerts, and sitting in the lawn of the Washington monument watching the incredible, in sight and sound, Fourth of July fireworks.
These outings were just a few of my summer memories. The usual highlight was our family trip to Texas to visit my grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins. The drive was arduous, but a few times, when my father was unable to get away from work, we took the train which was a treat in itself. Either way, vacation in Texas was always fun. My grandmothers always took us shopping to buy something special. My maternal grandfather owned property outside of town with a pond he kept stocked with catfish and bass. My grandfather took my sister, cousins, and I fishing. The poor man spent most of the day baiting our hooks, helping us pull in the fish, taking the ones we caught off our hooks and either keeping them for the fish fry that would follow, or throwing them back to let them grow some more. My paternal grandfather took us to his restaurant and let us order whatever we wanted – including several pieces of the best pies anywhere. He also played games with us – his favorite was dominoes.
I want my grandchildren to have happy memories of their Gigi and Pabo. Living very close to four of them, I want to make sure not to take that for granted. I want it to be more than just being with them. I want them and our Charlotte grandchildren to have the type of memories I have of my grandparents – places we go, things we do, experiences we share.
From ages now ranging from almost 4 to 14, each year they grow closer to the age of no longer wanting to spend time doing what their brothers or sisters enjoy. Baking cookies, playing games, going berry picking, visiting the aquarium, and family trips, will give way to more teenage endeavors. The years seem to be flying by; before I know it, they will be off on their own. I just hope I will have given them wonderful memories to look back on.