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Elaine Carey

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Member Since: May, 2003

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Featured Book
Kissed in the Dark
by Gloria Gay

He was a famous rake and she wanted nothing to do with him...until he started to build a sturdy bridge to her heart.....  
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A Single Summer Day
By Elaine Carey
Monday, March 01, 2004

Rated "G" by the Author.

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Oblivious to the emotional nuances, all I remember is the brilliant kaleidascope of distilled smells and sounds....

 Mom was making iced-tea, Pennsylvania style. The beverage was dark as coffee but very sweet, and she would eventually pour it into funky metal glasses that frosted up on the outside from the chilled liquid.  She might plunk in two ice cubes. Any more was pure frivolous waste of precious ice.  We didn't have iced tea except when company came.  We drank milk or water.  Coke was for vacations only.  Today, Uncle Coonie and Aunt Lois and their  blonde daughters were coming to visit.

I pondered another visit from my uncle, Mom's brother Guy, his wife Sue, and their three lively kids.  I remember many snippets of that day, because Aunt Sue kept getting her feelings hurt.  She was upset because when the adults played croquet, her ankle got smacked by a ball.  She had to sit with an ice pack while her ankle swelled.  Then Dad insulted her by quipping, "Wanda, why did you make this lousy box cake?" when really Aunt Sue had baked it.  It was a squirmy, uncomfortable day, and therefore I wondered whether more family drama would unfold the day Uncle Coonie came.  Let's see...

I am sure that Dad fired up the grill.  The grass was cut, and sweet green fragrance floated up to tickle my nose.  The smell of charcoal wafted up to the kitchen, where Mom frosted her mix-in-pan cake, a miracle that required no eggs.  The eggs were busy elsewhere, deviled and sprinkled with paprika,
 or maybe pickled with beet juice.

I can't remember the occasion for the visit.  I overheard Mom saying, before they came, "I told Coonie that if I died, I wouldn't care if he came to my funeral.  I preferred that he come see us while we were alive and well." That was vintage Mom--beautiful and sassy and strong-willed.  Dad would mope around and wish his older brother would visit, so Mom dialed the phone and launched an emotional invitation. 

They came.  We ate burgers.  We tried to connect with our cousins who seemed totally out of their element.  Uncle Coonie fell asleep in the reclining chair.  After they left, Mom said, "I can't believe he fell asleep," as if it were an awful breach of etiquette. Dad defended, "he works two jobs to make ends meet.  We should just be happy they came."  
I don't know what they said at dinner; dads always seemed to obsess about jobs, while mothers talked about the husband, the kids, stress, recipes, diets, and fashion.  Kids usually snuck away to the juvenile world.  I think Mark showed Debbie the peonies and tried to get her to pick some, because she squealed when she found they were covered with ants.  Ants alone could free the budding peonies by eating off the green covering.  They were awesome to behold-- large red ants, not those tiny sugar ants, assembled like a conquering army on the buds. 

What springs to mind so vividly is not the words hanging in the air, but the feeling that all was lovely and sweet--as sweet as the iced tea. A northern summer day is like diamonds on green velvet.  The grass is verdant and cool while the air is warm, but seldom muggy. We sat together on the patio on lawn chairs, viewing our long back yard flanked by irises, lilies-of-the-valley, and cherry trees,  ending in a spectacular, lush vegetable garden.  I'm sure that at some point, we kids ran down to the sturdy swing set.  My brothers probably scared Debbie and Donna by swinging high and then jumping off.  I don't remember.  

Three funerals later,  I am delighted to recall a vestige of that summer day.  I'm glad they got together decades before the first funeral and made time to connect over summer suburbian rituals. Only Aunt Lois is left of the adults, and we kids seldom even call each other.  Life is short, life is busy.  It sweeps us along like a torrent after a thunderstorm.  We savor the moments to recall now and then, and look forward to more summer days. 




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Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado 3/1/2004
Wonderful story, Bess; always a joy to read your uplifting and inspirational writes!

(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D

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