In the part of my mind that stores perfect memories lives the October of my childhood. I see the warm grey of the sky, orange pumpkins dotting quiet porches, with brilliant red and gold maple leaves fluttering in the crisp air to the ground. I remember staying at my Aunt Bev and Uncle Dick’s log house at the lake and raking leaves into the outline of a pretend house complete with rooms enough for my family—a house I imagined I would live in a hundred years from then, when I was grown up. There, I would be happy. I spent hours sitting on the edge of the pier with a string tied to the end of a stick. The other end of the string I tied a piece of soft, white bread. I was fishing. The clear green lake water lapped at my piece of bread until it eventually dissolved and disappeared.
After I moved west with my family, my Aunt and Uncle continued to share their lives and their lake with me. I’ve often thought that to be the reason I have always been drawn to water. As a teenager, I spent entire summers worshiping the sun, listening to FM 80’s tunes on a radio powered by enormous batteries. The radio was black, had a handle and was my only connection to the future. I can still feel my uncle’s footfalls evenly shaking the pier and my lounge chair as I lie face down in my purple floral Op bikini as I had been for the past 30 days.
“How’s it going, Bean?” he asked.
“I’m bored,” I said, barely raising my towel marked face to speak.
“BEAN!” he said, “Someday you’re going to look back on this day and WISH you were so bored!”
“I guess…” I said and went back to work on my all-important tan, continuing to bake the Sun-In into my non-blonde hair.
I knew he was right, but my 17-year-old brain would only allow it 2 seconds of thought.
My Uncle passed away some years ago, and to be honest, I am still a little pissed about it. I know there is no guarantee that any of us will be here tomorrow or the next day, but he was a huge personality and he still had a lot of life and love left to enjoy and share—and things to do. I think about him all the time; when I wash my car, when I mow my lawn, when I yell during a football game, when I trick myself into believing running is a good idea, when someone thinks I can’t take a good teasing, when I poach an egg or mix an Old Fashioned … when I make a BLT for breakfast.
Today I had a BLT for breakfast. And, I thought about mornings at the lake—sleeping in through the hours and hours of chiming that marked every quarter hour that came from the grandfather clock hanging on the wall near my bedroom. I remember rolling out of bed and meeting my Aunt and Uncle outside on the patio under the yellow and white umbrella, me still in my pajamas. My Aunt would be getting ready to take her weekend post in the sun. My Uncle had already been up for hours—washed the car (he loved his cars), mowed the lawn (toward the direction of the lake), went running (rehydrating with a beer) and maybe “relocated” several squirrels.
“Bean, how about a BLT?” he asked.
“Sure,” I said, all smiles.
Just then “What’s Love Got To Do With It” by Tina Turner came on the radio.
“Bean, what’s love got to do with it?” he asked, tilting his head in the way that he did when he expected a real answer.
He always talked to me like an adult, and I could tell this was a serious question. But, I was 17. I just got up and I wanted a BLT. I wasn’t up for a philosophical discussion just yet…
“I don’t know? Everything?” I said, saying the first thing that came to me.
He nodded in agreement, looked up at the rising thermometer and went inside to “mic” some bacon for BLTs.
I miss my Uncle. I wish he were here for me to be bored with, share a drink and some advice. I wish he were here to see the young woman my daughter has grown into. I wish he were here for my Aunt… But most of all, I wish he were here for him.
And yes, love has everything to do with it.