I was prompted to write about a favourite summer memory a week or so back by a tweet from the delightful Sarah Von. Without hesitation, I poured out the memory that lives right on top of my heart. Fresh and pure like a glass of water.
I spent my summers with my family in a rented cottage north of Toronto by about 2 hours.
Wymbolwood. Kilometers of expansive white beach. Sandbank upon sandbank.
Every day, I would go for a long walk with my mother. In this enduring memory, I am eight-years old. Too young to be distracted by boys, tan lines and reading Seventeen magazine. (That would come soon enough.)
We always walked to the same destination: Diamond Head (name coined by my cousin). It was a unique and mysterious house on a cliff that overlooked the cerulean blue waters of Georgian Bay. No one ever seemed to be in there, adding to the mystique. Two diamonds, meeting over the expansive front door. Huge windows, curtains drawn.
We would spend the walk creating stories about who built this wildly atypical building. A cardiac surgeon, perhaps, driven mad by heartbreak and vowing to only create structures found in a deck of cards. Perhaps his estranged wife was buried on the property (hole dug with a spade, natch). When we would reach it, we’d pause, take in the marvel that it was, shudder with goose-bumpy delight and turn back, satiated with story.
On the walk back, we would discuss what ice cream cone we’d have. Three o’clock was ice cream time. We’d invent new flavours (like “Cold Currant”, inspired by the waters we walked along). We’d giggle and hold hands, anticipating the rest of the glorious day. And when a shimmer of sadness would wash over me that this moment wouldn’t last forever (even back then), we’d run down a list of joyful things just around the corner: the CNE, back-to-school shopping, first day of school, my birthday, Thanksgiving, Hallowe’en, Christmas. Light and warm-hearted once again, we’d have reached our family and friends on the beach and en happy masse, we’d enter the general store and order our cones.
My mother passed away in 2004 and my daughter is now eight-years old herself. This is a memory I cherish. Pretty much daily. And if she were here for Mother’s day and her birthday on the 10th, I’d be sharing it with her. In fact, I suspect I'd commission an ice cream aficionado to create cold currant ice cream and bring her a cone.
As much as your mom relishes the flowers, spa visits and jewelry that you’ll adorn her with on Mother’s Day, may I make a request? Will you conjure up your own favourite memory and share it with her? In your card or in your phone call?
I suspect that all she really wants to know is that at some point in your life, she was doing something right.