I imagine it must have been very hard to be the second son of a successful Navy pilot.
It must have been equally difficult growing up with an older (and quite handsome) brother whose path to the Naval Academy was handed to him wrapped on gold lined parchment paper and given to him in the nursery of the Naval hospital on the day he was born.
I can’t feel too sorry for the young man who just as handsome and many times more daring than his older brother. Now, when I say daring I’m pretty sure I mean devilish and mischievous to the point that I’m sure he caused his parents ONE too many sleepless nights.
The young girls in the neighborhood secretly loved the bad boy and would swoon when we caught glimpses of him speeding away on his bike towards an unfortunate adventure that almost always never ended well. (I think.) He picked on his younger sister relentlessly, and I’m pretty sure the July sparkler that he put down her back was not the last time he sent her to the hospital.
She was my best friend those long years ago on Lemon Road.
I’m happy to say we are still friends, and I managed a quick trip to see her last weekend while on my extended vacation here on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay. Through several texts and phone calls she managed to arrange a meeting with that rascally older brother of hers; A meeting on his very large and quite impressive Catamaran that he recently sailed up from the Bahamas. (cough, cough) His wife, quite brilliantly, stayed on shore for that part of his adventure. (Good choice.)
I hadn’t seen him for over, oh, about THIRTY-FIVE YEARS, and I was thrilled that this year it might happen. We’ve tried several times over recent years, but life always seems to get in the way.
We met John and his wife on the boat last Monday afternoon. Our arms were filled with cheese, crackers, wine and memories of a long forgotten - but very happy – childhood, as we made our way down the dock to what looked like the biggest boat in the marina.
I smiled when I saw him and realized that while time has tried very hard to leave its mark, he looked almost exactly as I remembered him. He had a quick smile and eyes that laughed right along with it. He reached his hand down to this fifty-year old teacher and hoisted her aboard as if I DIDN’T weigh…..well……you know.
The hugs were long and hard and I tried very hard not to cry. (Which, as you know, is no easy task.) In those brief moments I wanted to say how sorry I was that he had lost his incredibly beautiful and wonderful mother not long ago. I wanted to say how sorry I was that his amazing father passed a few months later of what everyone was convinced was a broken heart. I wanted to tell him how happy I was that he had found a wonderful wife and partner, and was sad about the broken road that led him to that....and how glad I was that his successes have brought him to where he is today.
But instead, we laughed.
He pretended to be turning the boat around because his sister was not enthusiastic about going out on the boat, but instead motored the boat out onto the Chesapeake Bay. He stopped in the middle and we sat like kings on the beautiful rolling water and shared our stories. We ate cheese, had some cocktails, exchanged woes and joys, shared news of our children and enjoyed the lovely summer night.
Childhood memories are certainly magical. But I’ve learned along the way that these (very cool) adult memories can be just as magical.
(Okay, and you TOO, Beth…and Kathy!!)