When I was a child spending summers with my grandparents, my Aunt Betty and I made the most beautiful memories scampering around in the West Virginia hills that surrounded the coal camp where they lived. My grandfather worked in the mine.
My grandparents had five children. My mother, the eldest, was the reason I was there. She had a job and couldn’t leave me alone. Betty was the youngest – only three months older than I. We were not only playmates, but also best friends!
Because I spent so much time with them and because Betty and her brothers called my grandmother “Mom” – so did I. It seemed only natural.
It was at least a lifetime ago, but those beautiful summer days are as clear in my mind as they were then.
Evenings were the best. After playing all day, having a warm bath and one of Mom’s home-cooked meals, we were exhausted. Mom would say, “Come on girls. Let’s swing for a while.” We looked forward to those evenings. Mom was as round as a balloon and as soft as a down pillow. I’d snuggle close on one side and Betty, on the other. Mom would start by telling stories about her past, like the time her brother accidentally cut off her finger with an axe while chopping wood. We’d also sing silly songs – songs that we’d remember forever and pass down to our children and grandchildren. We gathered many precious memories on that long porch swing while nestled in the safety of my grandmother’s cushiony body.
During the day, we’d ramble on the hillside behind the house; pick blackberries or splash around in a small creek that ran through the tiny community. We were never at a loss for something to do. Sometimes we’d go to the company store that was owned by the coal company that employed my grandfather. We never had money but it was fun to look around and dream of what we would buy if we actually did have the funds.
When I think of those wonderful summers of my early childhood, I feel sorry for today’s children. Some of them may never know a grandmother who has the time to spend evenings telling stories and singing songs. Most won’t have memories of spending long summer days in nature because they’re inside playing with their I-pads or computers – or watching TV. They think they’ve got everything.
Ah, but they’re missing so much!