In California, the last days of summer are upon us. Another season has passed. This one passes with a tinge of sadness. With Labor Day nearing, our son, David, has finished his time with us, and returned to the University. It seems like yesterday, that he opened the door and greeted his Mother with a Happy Mother’s Day hug and kiss. He seemed taller. His beard was that of a man.
Our son was home for the summer. We were happy and proud. He had transferred from De Anza Community College, to the University of Wyoming, our alma mater. He could have gone to UC Davis, but decided Laramie was a better school for geological studies, for a cheaper price. He came home, tired, but happy, with more A’s than B’s, proving to himself that he could compete, successfully, in a far away place.
After getting himself sorted, out, and rested up, he hit the streets, looking for a job. With only limited geological studies under his belt, he was unable to successfully land the internship he wanted. Facing a tough job market, more tough than the glowing reports of economic recovery might paint, he landed a summer job at Great America. Less than thrilled with the prospect of whiny children and overbearing parents, he went to work, each and every shift. He never missed a day, and never missed a start. Without doubt, he would be able to get on, again, next summer, but hopes he will be working closer to his field of study.
Our summer with David, was a time of family. Even though he was working, he took advantage of opportunities, spending time with us, plus his sister, Elizabeth. His sister celebrated her graduation on a fine Tuesday morning in June. Elizabeth’s graduation thrilled us. She worked so hard to get her diploma. Despite having worked the late shift the night before, David graciously climbed out of bed before 6 AM. We drove over the hill to Santa Cruz to sit in the audience.
We went out to lunch after the ceremony. And David got a chance to compare notes with his sister. His own, future, graduation, was on his mind. At first, he told us he wasn’t going marchin in his ceremony, that they could just mail it to him. His sister had tried the same approach, but to no avail. Then, he said that we didn’t have to come. We assured him that if he could do the work to get a diploma, we would want to celebrate it with him. His sister promised to return the favor by going to his graduation.
David put in his time at Great America. He had to curb his passion for daily bike rides, because he could not always ride after work, sometimes coming home after 10 PM. But, he rode when he could. And one of his opportunities came on the 4th of July, with the fireworks show at Shoreline. We parked some distance from Shoreline, and rode our bikes about 3 miles. It only took a few minutes, and we arrived in plenty of time for the show. Marian and I had seats, and David and his sister sat on the grass. In retrospect, I wish we had given up our seats and sat with them.
After the show, we hopped on our bikes, threaded our way through zillions of cars tangled up in grid-lock, retraced our way along the bike path, and got home about 45 minutes after the show ended. Marian and I remembered one year when we drove, of sitting, endlessly, in long lines, not getting home until well after midnight. And then it was time for Marian’s 4th of July cake. It was wonderful to celebrate Independence Day with the four of us.b
Near the end of July, David met one of his British cousins, for the first time as an adult. Paul, along with his wife, Helen, and Ella and Beth, came to visit us. As luck would have it, he was able to go over to the Santa Cruz Boardwalk on Pepsi Night, and take in the rides with his cousin. The ride both guys obviously liked the best was bumper cars. Who could have guessed the result?
David took advantage of his job at Great America, and got Paul and his family comp tickets to the park. Although he was working while they were there, he did not see them. His ride, Logger’s Revenge, was too rough for the little girls. But, afterward, he helped Paul celebrate his birthday.
August came, and we knew David’s time with us was slipping away. We filled it with helping his sister, Elizabeth, move back home from Santa Cruz. David pitched in to help with the bathroom project. When we could, we had supper together, and talked about all those things all families talk about. Finally, it was time to get cars tuned up, bikes repaired, and clothes washed and packed. The last few days were a study of contrasts. David expressed relief to have finished his tour with Great America, and was very excited about heading back to school. We were sad but proud, wondering if all four of us would ever be together, as we had been for a few weeks, ever again. And Elizabeth was delighted at the prospect of trading the small bedroom for (what had originally been) her room again.
David didn’t feel like he needed us to go back with him for his second year at Laramie. He really hadn’t felt the need for the first trip, either. But, he humored us last year, and we humored him this year. We are uncertain when Marian and I will return to Wyoming. Perhaps family affairs will call us suddenly home, or we might tie a biking trip in with a jaunt to Wyoming. Perhaps, we might even go back for Thanksgiving, if we can work Elizabeth’s schedule in. Until then, we will savor the memories of a summer with our son.