Stop..for a minute. Slow down. Close your eyes. When you open them, open them as with the eyes of a child. Look at the world with the wonder of a child again. Try to sense everything as if for the very first time. Life goes by so quickly, the following are some of my favorite memories and with the exception of bee stings and sunburn, I would not change them for anything as they have helped to shape who I am today. They are so deeply etched in my memory, the sounds and smells are still vivid in my head. Maybe this will help to bring back some of yours. A time when life was easy and carefree. Remember the first time you stood barefoot at the edge of the ocean, breathing in the salty air as the foamy surf washed over your feet threatening to knock you down? How the tide pulled the sand between your toes? How about sitting on a warm summer’s night and watching the light show of lightening bugs? Did you ever lay on your back and watch the white, cottony clouds make pictures in the sky against a blue canvas? How about watching a show of heat lightening against the summer night sky? Listening to the thunder rumble during a thunderstorm? Did your parents tell you it was the angels bowling to ease your fright from the loud booming that shook the house? What about the first time you ever touched the soft silky fur of a kitten and listened to the pleasing purr that followed? How about all the rain falling from the sky? I remember those moments and many more. Here are a few of some that stand out for me.

Dressing up our dog countless times and wheeling her in my stroller like a baby. Playing in the treehouse my dad built for my brother and I. (My brother used to take the ladder away and leave me stranded because he hated the Raggedy Ann curtains I made for the windows..) The time the seesaw on the swingset crushed my thumb and I had to go to the ER for stitches. The time the neighbor’s dog jumped on my brother and he had to go for stitches. Walking to 7-11 to get slurpees. The sound of the ice cream truck’s song a mile away and the taste of that first snowcone or my favorite, the rocket popsicle. The taste of salt water up my nose and in my mouth.. mixed with the smell of suntan lotion in the air. Walking for hours with my granny in search of sharks teeth. And never, ever getting tired. The smell of Noxema to help ease the sunburn. The smell of chlorine and that very first swimming lesson, and the time I jumped in over my head and my mom jumped in to bail me out- clothes and all. Riding bikes for hours, playing kickball, kick the can, hide & seek and going on picnics with the gang in the neighborhood. Playing softball, the smell of dirt, lime, leather from the gloves.. and yes, probably some ripe body odor too. My dad throwing the ball to me, and my mom helping to keep score at games. My family coming to cheer me on. Ice cream. Bible school. Going to spend time with my grandparents. Getting up at the crack of dawn with my grandparents and getting that “special” cup of coffee at the age of 9. Riding shotgun in the old yellow truck with my daddy and “helping” shift gears.

When my brother would come, he would stand in the middle. There weren’t seatbelt laws then. Sometimes we would “help” get mulch for deliveries. We really just liked to run up and down the mulch hills, and we always begged to go down the road that had the roller coaster hill. My girlfriend and I used to hike on trails we made in the woods, praying a snake didn’t cross our path, and walking down to the marina. Picking up cans and bottles along the way to make some quick cash for candy. Back then, Virginia had a bottle exchange, not anymore. Catching tadpoles and walking in the cold streams cooled you down quick. Climbing trees. Losing your shoes for the summer and going barefoot, feeling the cool dew on the grass in the evening. Sitting on my granddaddy’s lap. (Both sides..) Visiting my dad at the firehouse on the nights he had to work. Getting bee stings and getting poison ivy and smelling like calamine lotion. Drinking lots of sweet iced tea. Going camping once to Disney World with the camper.. another time to Hershey and later, in a tent somewhere in CT. Having to endure a hayride with a bunch of little kids when I was much too “mature” for that, or so I thought! At the end of the day, my mama rubbing my legs with alcohol to soothe the cramps from the long hours of playing all day. Closing my eyes, and knowing without a shadow of a doubt that I was loved..completely. The fan gently blowing from the window as the cadence of summer night sounds lulled me to sleep.

These are precious memories… What do you remember?