This Was Mine MAG

January 11, 2012

Lately, time has zipped by as quickly as a swatted, pesky fly. But it hasn’t always flown by that fast. I used to enjoy the long, careless days of childhood.

I would stay out until dusk with the neighborhood gang, playing Kick-the-Can. The autumn sun would turn the entire sky a dreamy pink and the light would reflect off the leaves. The smell of burning twigs, leaves and old newspapers lingered in the heavy air. The chill would cause my hair to stand on end. At the sound of my mom’s whistle, my sister and I would head for home. I would tumble into the house with grass-stained knees and elbows.

This was my childhood.

On steamy summer Sunday mornings, my sister, my dad and I would trek to the Clyde Reservoir. My sister and I, dressed in our best fishing apparel, would juggle our fishing poles and tackle boxes until we got to the rocks where we finally set them down.

”This is the best bluegill spot we’re gonna find. You girls want to fish for bluegills, don’t you? ‘Cause if you wanna go for the catfish, we’ve gotta walk all the way ‘round to the other side,” Dad said.

”This is fine, Dad,” we said. We didn’t care what we fished for. Besides, it would have taken too much energy to go to the other side.

We fished all day with the sun’s heat radiating off our backs and time didn’t mean a thing.

This was my childhood.

An old, widowed woman named Mrs. Newberger used to live in a brick house beside us. Her back yard emulated the Secret Garden. It was filled with colorful flowers, bushes and exotic shrubbery that bloomed when the sun shone and closed when the sun hid behind the clouds. Amazingly, despite Alzheimer’s, Mrs. Newberger knew the genus and species of every plant. She never knew my name. Sometimes I would sneak into her garden and pick a flower for my mother. Once, instead of just clipping the stem, I accidentally uprooted the whole plant. I held the dirty plant in my hand, not knowing what to do with it. Even though Mrs. Newberger’s eyesight was failing and she normally couldn’t pick out the broad side of a barn, she caught me red-handed. Terrified, I dropped the plant and ran home, forgetting about my mother’s gift.

This was my childhood.

If only I could be seven years old and scared of Mrs. Newberger again, things would be okay. If only I could be watching the bobber of my fishing pole go up and down, time wouldn’t mean a thing. If only I could play Kick-the-Can in the autumn breeze, my childhood would come back. If only I was there again, I wouldn’t wish away the years like a pesky fly.

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