I sit on the floor with my father having a tea party with my beautiful daughters with pink plastic tea cups and a purple tea pitcher. These are not the same memories I have from my childhood, but these are precious memories for my girls and for me and my dad now.
Some of my clearest childhood memories are of my dad, my grandfather, and me walking through the cattle pasture behind my grandpa’s house to the fishing pond.
Our fishing took place during the heat of Oklahoma summers, and when I think of the bright sun reflecting off of the pond’s surface, it makes me squint. I spent most of my time looking through the branches at that crystal blue sky marked with huge, towering white clouds.
It felt like we fished for days at a time. The air seemed to stop, and we were suspended in time. Halfway through the day, Dad would tell me to check my bait. I’d pull my line in and always find a half-eaten worm, sometimes just a tiny speck left where the elusive fish had taken advantage of me again. Dad was never irritated. He’d hand me the tub of night crawlers, and I’d lift the lid and stick my fingers into the cool black dirt to find the fattest worm. Dad would make some adjustment to the bobber, and I’d throw my hook back in the pond. He’d turn to go back to his spot leaving me with a warning to keep my eye on my line this time.
We’d fish through the day, unless a quick moving thunder storm found us. If that happened, we’d grab everything, and running as fast as we could through the pasture, hop over cow patties and avoid holes I believed housed monstrous snakes.
But, usually, we fished in the sun. When it was it was time to leave, we’d reel in our hooks, gather up the tubs of worms and Grandpa’s Styrofoam minnow bucket and slowly walk back to the house. I was always surprised by the cool darkness of the house and by the time on the kitchen clock. We were back for lunch, but I never understood how that happened. I never saw Dad or Grandpa looking at their watches, but we were always there just in time for Grandma to fix cheese sandwiches with mayonnaise on white bread with potato chips and sweet iced tea for lunch. Dad and I would sit at the kitchen table with Grandma while Grandpa wandered into the living room and turned on the 12 o’clock news, and time would start up again.
Spending time together, just being together, without rushing off to the next event or next practice or lesson, just being present, being near each other, whether it is in a cow pasture or sipping make believe tea without worrying about who has to be where at what time, those are the elements necessary for good memories. This is what I believe.
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