I dream of those days occasionally. Whether I’m poking at the picnic table inscribed with Led Zeplin or flying over the shed covered in cicada shells, it’s always summer.
I’ll dream about riding uncle David’s oversized tricycle and one of the neighborhood kids stealing my Eskimo doll, pedaling furiously after them. ‘Eskimo’ even though it was as ebony as I was ivory except for my red, red, skinned knees from climbing trees.
I will never forget playing up in the tree. It seemed to stretch up and over for counties, and we shared so many secrets in that tree after inching up board by board to the widest branches that sheltered us from the summer sun.
Sam would behead my barbies and bury them never to be found again. OR we world play with the old cap guns watching reruns of Westerns and put together puzzles with grandma Boots.
You were out of the house long before I came along, but you would show me heavy metal magazines and let me play Rock Em Sock Em Robots during the day as the sun slanted in the windows.
At night there would be shenanigans. Pictures would be taken of my Eskimo doll with Steve after he passed out. Or the cap guns and a milk man’s hat.
You’d be out by the keg next to that inscribed picnic tabl. Or by the shed and car covered in 17 year cicadas. Rarely I’d be allowed to stay up late and you’d laugh about me wearing socks over footie pajamas or someone would give me a drunken piggy back ride that was both exhilarating and terrifying.
Eventually you went away, and then went to a halfway house.
Grandma Boots was in hospice, watching her Westerns. Mom tried to move the tissue box from the hospital bed table so grandma could see. She just laughed and said she had them all memorized. She was playing her Indian on a Hill trick and willed herself to slip away that Fall.
You were slipping through our fingers in the slanting late Fall sunlight as well.
It was winter when we lost uncle David. He played the same trick and slipped away sitting on his bed in the cold, cold winter after refusing to buy gas for heat. I can’t help but picture him with a feather in his hair. Or maybe it was a cap gun and a milkman hat with a smile. Either way, he was with grandma.
Matt eventually began remodeling the house and sent photos. The fence in the back was gone. The tree with boards was now a pile of wood cut in the Spring to be burned in the Winter and no longer stretched counties. No more secrets to be told there.
This cold winter, I was wrapped up in five or six blankets, maybe insulating from the cold that took uncle David when I found out you’d slipped away from this world like feeble beams of sunlight on grandma’s dusty ferns way back when.
I hope you’re with grandma and uncle David now. I hope it’s late summer again and you’re throwing a kegger with all of your friends. Ignore the 17 year cicadas on the cars and shed. They’re a part of summer that only happens a few times in a life if you’re lucky, just like you.
I pray I’ll dream of flying over the shed again, just to be with you for a few moments before I wake.