I could have just called this July, and everyone in the state of Oklahoma would already know that meant hot summer. We’re enjoying (I say that with just the tiniest bit of sarcasm) triple digit heat. Ugh, and thank God for whoever invented air conditioning because it was non-existent when I was a kid. I remember the first water-cooler my family bought. We thought it was a miracle, but it did get a little crowded standing right in front of it where the air was the coolest.
Bedtime during those years meant plenty of hot sleepless nights. We used to pray for a breeze, or an unexpected thunderstorm just to cool things off. My sister and I would lie motionless on our backs, our arms out-flung, hoping to catch even the tiniest wisp of stirring air. When our parents finally bought an old circulating fan, we took turns lying on the side of the bed closest to it, and we made a rule that no one slept on their side, because that would block the air. It was either on your tummy or your back.
When the days got hot, it meant playing in the shade instead of out in the yard. We still played, regardless of weather. Where does that wonderful abandon go as we get older? Do we trade creature comforts for joy? I hope not. I still remember what it feels like to run barefoot through hot sand, and the utter bliss of flying down the hillside toward the creek, knowing what that cool water was going to feel like on my hot bare feet. Life was so simple then. The sun came up. We did our chores and played. The sun went down. We did our chores and went to bed. The orchestrated ‘play dates’ parents make for their children now often leave me speechless. Play should not be on a schedule for anyone under the age of ten. It should be an inalienable right and batteries are not included.
But those days are nothing but fond memories. All I would wish back from those times are my father and my sister. They’ve been gone for far too many years. Still, sometimes when the air is so hot that it burns the inside of my nose just to take a breath, I can almost hear my sister laughing as she would beat me to the creek; watching the water splashing up on the back of her legs and the joy on her face as she turned around and yelled. “I won!”
Yes, she beat me at just about everything. I imagine her now – never still – never quiet – and that clear, perfect laugh, ringing out all over heaven.