“A Summer to Remember,” Aug. 31, 2021

Years from now, when you look back on this summer, what will you remember best? Will you smile at the memory, or wish it had been different?

Summers in my childhood meant freedom. I’d roam for hours through pastures and orchards, chasing cows, swatting flies and eating peaches off the trees. Best of all, I’d spend a few weeks on my grandparents’ farm in the mountains being doted on by my grandmother.

Every child should get to spend at least one summer in freedom, running and roaming and being doted on. Actually, I think we should all get to do that. What else is summer for?

When my children were small, I tried to keep their summers as free as possible, especially if it kept them out of the house. We lived in a small town on the coast of California, with no pastures or orchards, but the kids roamed on bikes on the street behind our house. Instead of cows, they chased each other through poison oak patches in a forest-like park a few blocks away. Or we piled into the van and drove a mile to the beach to hunt for shells in tidepools and get sunburned.

Our only official vacation was a week camping every August, in Yosemite National Park. Talk about freedom. The kids roamed and hiked and played all day, running through the campground, splashing in the river, smiling up at Half Dome. At night, when they fell asleep, I’d leave them in the tent with their dad and go to the river to stand on the bridge staring at stars and comets and bears.

Fortunately, the bears were more interested in foraging for food than bothering with me.

There were a few summers when we splurged and flew to the Carolinas to visit my family. The kids were thrilled to chase lightning bugs, shoot fireworks, run from thunderstorms, churn ice cream and let my mother, their “Mimi,” dote on them. If you asked them, I think they’d say most of their summer memories make them smile.

Lately, I’ve been wondering about my grandchildren. My husband and I share nine grandbabes, ages 11 years to 3 months. The youngest are too young to remember much. But what about the older ones? What will they remember about this, our second summer dealing with Covid-19 restrictions?

Their parents have worked hard to give them a summer of freedom—time to roam and explore and learn and have fun. Randy, Wiley, Elle and Henry go snorkeling in wetsuits at the beach. Charlotte, Archer and Bee swim at their Grandpa John’s ranch. Jonah, who’s 2, and Baby Leilani play at a park most every day. They’ve all had a lovely summer. My husband and I haven’t doted on them as often as we’d like. But I think, when they look back on this summer, they will smile.

What about the rest of us?

Lately, smoke from wildfires in Northern California has traveled far and wide, causing air quality to fall to unhealthy levels in many places, including at our home in Carmel Valley.

But last night, for the first time in days, the air cleared and my husband and I sat outside and enjoyed a warm, smoke-free, beautiful summer night.

I wish you could’ve seen it.

Years from now, looking back on this summer, we will surely recall all the hardships and loss that have been suffered by so many. How could we forget?

But I also want to remember every time I doted on a grandchild. Every birthday we celebrated together. Every meal, every talk, every hug I shared with someone I love. Every song that made me dance. Every joke that made me laugh. Every bird that sang through all the smoke and all the fears. And every bright and shining star I saw last night.

What will you remember best about this summer?

I hope it makes you smile.


  1. Jackie Hankinson says

    Yes, I am taking time to acclaim the “a summer to remember “ wish you could have ( ibebyu@sbcglobal.net ) seen the 10,000 plus bicycles and people in Wichita Falls, Texas . 40th anniversary of the hotter n hell ride, some wanted to make it a rockin chair marathon.
    This summer has high points of okra and figs and tomatoes and lots of rain for north texas. Anytime you wanna return to Wichita Falls, Texas, Sharon…. Come on! Love to clip and save the most meaningful articles. Love to you and yours! Mamaw and Papaw are our names. Jackie and Wayne Hankinson

  2. Kate Sciacca says

    Just celebrated the second oldest’s 40th birthday this past weekend. 24 of the 28 immediate family was there… still, I missed those four…
    We celebrated with a wiffle ball game at the park across the street from his house… in 102 degree smoky heat …..and had a great time. Then the birthday boy bbq’d for the whole gang and shared some excellent whiskey he’d received as a gift from a colleague. Came home to the entire Tahoe basin (on the south side) evacuating to Carson. It will be a summer to remember… for so many reasons.

  3. Thank you for calling them lightning bugs instead of fireflies; it makes my West Virginia heart happy.

  4. Danita Rickard says

    My favorite quote from so many of your columns: “ I wish you could have seen it.” You know how special that memory is.

  5. Yes, best memories are time spent with family and friends. Especially the blessing of being present at my Greatgranddaughter ‘s baptism. My morning devotions on my back porch where I can see God’s great creation. All good for the soul. God is faithful even in hard times. Keeping the Faith!

  6. Mary Edmonds says

    My lovely reading of your good memories will be remembered. I spent my summers with my grandparents at a nearby lake cottage where I was in the water 70% of the time, or rowing the small boat around the lake. At that time it was surrounded by farms and no housing developments. My kids just enjoyed riding bikes in the neighborhood and being with friends. My mother had inherited the cottage and sold it to pay her bills. But another grandmother nearby had a blueberry farm where I worked and enjoyed her company. Thank you for your many memories. My husband was a workaholic, so we did very little together, Have a lovely September.

  7. Terry Mazich says

    Two new granddaughters to spoil with love!

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