Summer is to the calendar year what Sunday is to the week. We pause. Reflect. Slow down and take a little more notice.
Several months ago, when I noticed how my grandson had grown from the little boy I had cuddled during those delightful years, I determined to catch up with the young man he had become. Suddenly, it seemed, Alex was about to turn fourteen.
Through L. L. Bean I found Captain Harvey Wheeler of Cumberland, Maine, a fly-fishing instructor with a boat. We were able to reserve August 10, which turned out to be a very special day for us. We put together a five-day grandfather-grandson time–a time for catching up, and maybe catching a few stripers. The day with Harvey Wheeler came right in the middle.
We caught the fish; on Homecoming Sunday I’ll show you the montage of photographs. Alex caught the biggest–a ten-pound striper. I snapped a picture as he held the fish and held his breath, as Harvey instructed, so we knew when to put the fish back: “If you hold your breath you’re reminded that the fish is holding his breath.” Harvey has a catch-and-release policy, which was fine for us. It was a perfect day, which began at 4 a.m. It lingers, still.
In addition to fishing, Alex and I spent time riding the waves at Old Orchard Beach. That cold Maine water was a relief during the August heat wave! We went bowling, played a lot of cribbage on the porch, and I taught Alex some new polka games using chips for betting, and we saw a French film, With a Friend Like Harry, which was Alex’s first foreign film with sub-titles. We spent a day at my dear friend Herb Adam’s summer cottage in Center Lovell Maine where we fished and visited with Duncan Howlett. Duncan wanted to be remembered to you. He’s 95 and doing great–I plan to share some of our delightful conversation in a sermon this Fall.
Herb, my mentor in ministry–and more–did the service of Dedication of Parents and Children for Alex here on Valentine’s Day in 1988, when Alex was a year and half old. Love.
Three years later my good friend Dick Drinon did the Dedication Service for my granddaughter, Hannah. Dick was at the cabin when Alex and I arrived. Dick stayed on for a day, and saw the French film with us, and the three of us sat on the porch in front of fans talking, laughing and reminiscing. Well, Dick and I did the reminiscing. Alex listened, some, and laughed. Some.
It was a make-shift Coming of Age trip for Alex, since the Unitarian church he attends in Reading doesn’t have the kind of rite of passage for young people that we have here. So we immersed Alex in Unitarian ministers: Dick, Duncan, Herb and me. I guess it was our kind of baptism.
On the way back to Alex’s house in Reading, near Boston, we took the roll of film we’d shot to a one-hour developing place and had a Chinese lunch while the pictures were being done.
As we sipped hot and sour soup I looked at the amazing young man sitting across from me and, with effort, I held my emotions in check and said, simply, “Well, Alex, I caught up with you.” He nodded and smiled. The spices in the soup caused my eyes to water. He understood.
It’s been a summer of noticing. I’ve missed you and look forward to sharing some exciting things I’ve been reading and thinking. I hope you’re well, rested and ready to begin again. See you soon