Whispers from the Past
A diamond pattern from the late afternoon sunset sparkles across the ripples on Otter Lake. The evergreen trees dance with the cool afternoon breezes. Waves crash upon the sandy beach stirring the ghosts from last year’s twenty-fourth of May camping trip. Even my footprints from my earlier afternoon walk on the beach press upon my memory of past mother and daughter walks on this beach. The late afternoon bantering of words and laughter about our shortcomings bounce off the walls of my memory. With each new wave my footprints fade into oblivion. My memories of cooking beans and hot dogs on this beach haunt my thoughts this year.
Only the clinking of the crystal wineglass upon the armrest of my Aderondak chair snaps me back to reality. With my right hand, I close the tear stained photo album. A tear falls onto the front cover. In the distance, my misty eyes view a familiar sight. Across Otter Lake a campfire burns and the comforting sounds of laughter and singing echo across the water. From head to toe, a warm feeling of familiarity blankets my cold reality that someone is missing this year.
“Why did I come here?” I mumble. “Oh, Lord …… help me remember the good times with Jenny!”
Dancing across my memory resounds these words, “Mom, promise me this?”
“Mom, never forget our moments by the campfire.”
“Sure, sweety, I promise.”
With the next cool breeze from the lake, my nose twists with the smoke from my raging campfire. I shiver with the next breeze. Slowly turning my head to the right, I catch a glimpse of swirling grey smoke with flickering red, orange, and yellow flames. The crackling wood and swirling smoke simulate my imagination. In my misty memories, I view a scene of happier times. The aroma of bubbling beans in a copper pot dangling over the fire and the charred hot dogs on a stick. A whisper resounds from the next off shore breeze.
“Beans, again, Mom? The musical flute…..”
“….the more you eat, the more you tute, sweety.”
A lump catches in my throat and I fight back the tears. “Why? Lord, Why?” I mumble. “She was only sixteeny years old.”
My shoulders heave with each breath of pine scented air. My heart bursts with pain. Like a rushing fountain, the words finally flow. “Lord, where were you when that drunk driver crossed the road and hit my Jenny?” Between sobs, I scream into the wind, “Why? Why? She was all I had, Lord.”
I snatch the Kleenex from my jean pocket and blow my nose. “Enough of this!” My hands cradle the urn resting on the right-hand armrest. Memories invade my soul and overwhelm my emotions. Sixteen years of cooking beans and roasting hot dogs over a campfire dwell in my memory. Scene upon scene rolls across my mind and shallow words mix with broken promises echo in my ears.
I raise the urn towards heaven, “See you in glory, Sweety.” With the next breath, I whisper between sobs. “Say hello to Jesus for me.”
Between sobs, I lower the urn onto the armrest. As a shiver trembles over my body, I hang my head and close my eyes. The memories of Jenny fade into my dreams. With the sound of crashing waves, I float into my dream world. A world with canned beans, hot dogs, and raging campfires.
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