Posted tagged ‘memorial day weekend as child and now as adult’

Memoriam Day Weekend – Thinking of Old Friends, Swimming, Summer

May 29, 2011

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Memorial Day Weekend. These were days of great joy for me as a child–the swimming pools opened! Water, still shiver-producing, but already shimmering in bright sun, could finally be dived into, waded through, lingered in. My life, for at least the next couple of months, would no longer be just lived on earth.

Memorial Day still fills me with a kind of reflexive exhileration, and I still use it as pretty much as the marker for the beginning of the swimming season. (I have a childish heart.) Except that now, of course, I’ve lived long enough now for the weekend to be imbued with not just anticipation, but remembrance.

In my case, the memorial is not so much for victims of wars, as for two specific friends, now lost, whose birthdays happen to fall on this weekend, just a day or so ahead of my own.

I used to joke that I felt so akin to these two people–a French man much older than myself named Rene-Jean Teillard, and a friend my own age, Rhona Saffer–because we were all three Geminis. Although Rene and Rhona did not know each other, we all three shared certain classic (if you believe in that kind of thing) Gemini traits–a quickness to both delight and bemoan, a love of the verbal, an inability to ever do just one thing at a time.

Having gone through the deaths of each of these dear friends, having met the cluster of kith and kin around them, I increasingly suspect that my feelings of closeness with them had little to do with our supposedly shared Geminicities.

Each of them was simply an incredibly good friend. By this, I do not only mean that they were each a good friend to me–but that they were each very very talented at friendship itself. They were thoughtful, loyal, fun, caring; they had the even more unusual quality of being able to inspire thoughtfulness, loyalty, fun and caring in others.

I think of them now–of Rhona Saffer especially, whose birthday is today–this beautiful, lilacy, water-filled day, a day when swimming has always begun for me, in pools and ponds; when the flickering shimmer of light is not just seen, but moved through, floated upon, and, briefly, briefly (it’s cold below the surface) plunged into.

Other posts on Rene, Rhona, swimming in summer.