Memorial Weekend Memories
May 28, 2012
If my childhood Memorial weekend memories were kept in bottle, they would separate like a lava lamp on the shelf. The color would split between the perfect blue of a summer sky and the murky green of the water of the Lake of the Ozarks, and it would have to smell like coconut tanning oil.
As a kid, my grandparents had a house on the lake in a little town called Roach. Name of that little enclave aside, it was paradise. The house itself was a tiny ranch-style with 3 bedrooms and only one bathroom. That may sound adequate until I mention that 21 of us packed in each Friday night and were spit back out to reality Sunday afternoon.
Driving down to the lake on Friday night never failed to excite me, even 14 years in. Sunday was a different story. We left like a band of the walking dead. Everyone was sunburned and exhausted from playing in the sun. Memorial weekend marked the start of a summer season spent swimming, boating, fishing…eating way too much good Grandma-food and being with my family—where I have always been my happiest.
For many reasons, I’ll tell you I am a fortunate person, but for my family, I am the luckiest. We were always together. My cousins are as close to me as siblings. My aunts and uncles were secondary parents. I tell people that I grew up in a puppy pile, and if you saw the sleeping arrangements at the lake house, you’d agree with my description.
Things change and eventually we all grew up. The house was sold almost a decade ago, and my grandpa, who I nearly always rode to lake house with, passed shortly after.
Time is said to heal all things, but those two losses stay with me. The weekend transformed to a true memorial, as each year I would remember the losses first and the summers second.
Recently, my husband, a California transplant, agreed to make the trip to the Ozarks. The prospect of seeing it again initially made me sad. My mother reminded me what made it great was that we were together and the place… was just a house. I think I can go find the places we explored as kids and laugh as I tell my husband the tall tales of my youth.
Now as an adult, I have a house of my own, and in the spirit of the lake house, I host the backyard barbecues with the family. We swim in our pool and Grandma still cooks plenty of amazing treats. The sun bakes us all, and on Monday morning, I’ll feel like I’ve run a marathon—one I’d gladly run again.
If you take a moment to look back and remember those you lost, take a second moment to be thankful for those you still have. Whatever your memories or your traditions were, I hope the spirit of this first long summer weekend leads you each to happy times spent with those you love.