August 3, 2014 at 8:15 am (Memoir) (BFFs, cemetery, country church, country drives, death, driving, friendship, funeral, graveyard, lemonade stand, lemonade stands, paper dolls, postaday, quiet, saying thank you, Summer, zig zag)
I went to a funeral recently in an old country church. You know, a small church way out in the country that only seats a handful of people. Well, at least in my memory it’s way out in the country. In reality, it seems, it’s borders right on the highway. Not a main highway, for sure, just a less traveled secondary highway but still, in my memory, this particular church is way off in the middle of nowhere absolutely surrounded by trees.
It was a particularly beautiful summer’s day. The sky was a crystalline blue. There was a slight breeze. The mosquitoes stayed away. The congregation was full of family who loved and missed the deceased.
The deceased was the mother of one of my childhood friends. We were tomboys together. My friend was not there. She had died years ago, in her early twenties; she was the first of my peer group to die. Her death was a blip on the radar screen of my life. She had moved away before first grade and I, then in my twenties, hardly had cause to remember her.
Her mother’s death was more poignant though not at all surprising like Tammy’s death was. We expect the old to die.
The funeral made me think of long ago summer days. Tammy’s mom and my mom use to take Tammy & I & my younger brother out on drives. Our moms were both alone, divorced, and raising young children by themselves. My mom had no car and did not drive. Tammy’s mom would borrow her dad’s car or her older sister Viola’s convertible and we would drive the endless country roads of my youth. I miss just driving with no destination in mind.
There was no rhyme or reason to where or when. We would just drive. We would end up at the lake or we would end up picking berries somewhere – the edge of a field or the start of an endless woods. We were young, Tammy and I, the world seemed endless.
There were trips to Viola’s farm where we would stay for supper after being at the lake. Viola was at the funeral, she is in her nineties now. She doesn’t remember me. There were horses at the farm, endless trees, and what seemed like an all-encompassing quiet. Country quiet is different than city quiet. Here, I hear the birds and the wind. There, I hear cars on pavement and trains rumbling by.
It seemed then that Tammy and I would be friends forever. We started Kindergarten together and in the summer we would set up a lemonade stand to make money. We were poor and needed the cash to buy paper dolls.
There were optimal places to set up our lemonade stand. The best places were in front of the post office or drug store. Everyone went there. It was where the old people congregated and the old people were always willing to spend a dime on a warm, watery glass of Kool-Aid lemonade. We were not fancy. We were practical. We got the supplies from her house or my house and re-used the Tupperware plastic tumblers until we had sold ten glasses worth. All we needed was a dollar. With that we could get one paper doll booklet that usually had two paper dolls and four pages of clothes. We could play with them all afternoon without getting bored and go back the next week-end to start the cycle anew.
These are the paper dolls I remember best. The King and Queen of Hearts, Romeo & Juliet, Robin Hood and Maid Marian. (Click on the link and scroll down). Story-tale paper dolls. The paper dolls stayed at Tammy’s house. I don’t remember why. Maybe because I had a bratty baby brother plus two older sisters and all she had was a brother who was older. Maybe I was just a push-over. Probably a bit of all these reasons.
Tammy moved out of the country the next year and though I saw her again when we were entering our teens, we were never ever really best friends again.
I went to her mother’s funeral because I hadn’t been able to go to hers. I went to say thank you for the drives and the memories. It was appropriate that it was a summer funeral because it was that summer freedom and joy that Tammy and her mother gave to me.
Now. Now that I am old, when I pass a lemonade stand hosted by young-uns, I stop. I have a glass of watery, warm lemonade from a paper cup (we are more germ conscious now) and I remember hot summer days and long country drives.
It is not a straight line that got me here!