Tuesday, December 2, 2008


His name leaped out at me from the obituary column of my morning newspaper. An electric shock vibrated through my body as I read that he was 96 years old at the time of his death. He had been married for 60 years, had children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and had been a successful business man.

As if I were on a time machine, he and I were on a beautiful lake in the Adirondack Mountains. He was 18 years old and I was 16. We had just finished a long swim and we were slightly out of breath, watching the sun set. I could feel the wetness of my bathing suit, the sand on my feet and on my shoulders.

The majestic mountains surrounding the lake were like walls providing a private space in which the two of us seemed to exist. Private moments were in marked contrast to the busy, noisy action-filled days of our roles as counselors at a summer camp. So we rested quietly, only the singing of birds, breaking the silence.

He turned towards me, as if he wanted to say something. Perhaps it was accidental, because we had never touched each other before, but within a moment we were holding each other, caressing each other. I could feel the droplets of water on our bodies mingling together. A wonderful feeling erupted within me.

A short time later, the summer was over, and I left to begin my freshman year at college in Massachusetts. I never saw him again. For many months, he inhabited my fantasy life. I dreamed that we would be together, sharing the pleasures of new experiences.

And now I read that he was dead. I was 94 years old as I read that notice. But as I traveled on a time machine that morning, we were swimming in the cool waters of a beautiful lake–he was 18, I was 16–both of us joyfully unaware of life’s inevitable stages.

1 comment:

Alice said...

Shirley: I feel like I am in the Adirondacks with you! I love the entry. This whole recent section is fabulous.

Much love,