My heart is heavy today for a wonderful friend who’s son, Daniel, has passed away. I spent late last night and today walking down memory lane and recalling so many fun and fond memories of my big boys ( as I call them), along with other neighborhood playmates.
My family was blessed to live for an incredible season in the Bon Air section of Richmond, Va. for nine wonderful years. We belonged to a great neighborhood association and pool called Brighton Green. I think everybody who knows this “season of life” I speak of would agree it was magical. Our families, parents and children alike, we ate together, we swam together, we educated together, we laughed together, we “partied” together and we wept together. Love , support and encouragement were the theme of our lives and it wasn’t just lip service, it was lived out.
When I heard of Daniel’s passing, I immediately thought of his slightly crooked smile and his eyes that danced when his lips turned upward. I then remembered the “Wonder Years” moment. My dear friend Mariann lived up the hill behind the pool and we were all ready for a break from the sun. We collected our children along with several other neighborhood kids and we crossed over the small bridge above the creek, walked up the steep grass and entered through her screened-in-porch door. The boys were sent to the basement to play, my older girls to the den to watch tv with a snack and Mariann and I settled down to a glass of lemonade.
It wasn’t too long before baby Phoebe wanted to eat. My bathing suit was hot and sticky and it was awkward to nurse her, so I quickly agreed to Mariann’s suggestion of just pull the top all the way down. So there I sat, Phoebe contentedly nursing, me no longer dripping in sweat from wrestling her, and my top-half exposed back to the day before man and woman wore clothes. It was a perfect plan, great friends lost in conversation, sipping tasty lemonade- a perfect plan until the basement door opened.
I am sure the boys came up for something that day but for what we will never know. One by one they filed through the kitchen,mouth open, blank face with a dazed look in their eyes as they passed me and very quickly filed out the front door. It all happened so fast. I sat equally in shock as I thought of how I had just exposed myself to these preteen fellows and would now need to tell their mothers.
Mariann broke the ice, she exclaimed, ” Well if that wasn’t just an episode of the television show The Wonder Years. I can picture it now. One of the boys are the narrator and he says, I remember the time I saw my first breast. It was a hot summer day and Mrs. Irwin…” We laughed in fits and giggles for hours over that scene and we still giggle to this day. All of the moms were gracious about it and laughed right along with us. Such good times- boys being boys, water gun fights, creek digging for tadpoles, swimming pool games and coming of age stories.
I sit here with a grin as the tears stream down my face, embracing the sorrow for this world’s loss but reaching for the memory of laughter as I recall a sweet boy’s face.