It was such a lovely summer day. The 1st of August. Dust and drought lay ahead, but today was so blue it made your eyes and heart wince. A cloudless blue. A blue bold and bright and beautiful beyond words. Blue, like no other color, can be holy.
I had played baseball at Douglas Park all day. Home Run Derby as well. I had won with six. I was elated. I rarely won. I waved “So Long” to my buddies, and raced home. I took the six steps on the front in two big strides. I slammed the front door, and yelled to Mom, “What’s for supper? I’m starved.”
“Corn,” she said.
“What else?” I asked.
“No she is not. She has a headache, and Dad and I decided a dinner of corn would be just fine.” My sister spoke with the authority of being a know it all teenager.
“Nobody asked me.” I pouted.
“You are just a kid, and your vote does not count.” She could be such a brat at fourteen.
“Is that right Mom? My vote doesn’t count?”
“Of course it counts Billy, but tonight, I would appreciate it if we could just have corn on the cob. You can smother it in butter. Now go join your father and Mrs. Zahalka and Betty, they are all waiting in the back yard. Dad has the corn on the grill.”
“Dad’s grilling, and there are no burgers or brats or chicken?”
“Not tonight – are you deaf?” My sister wagged her finger at me. I stuck out my tongue at her.
“OK. Corn it is. I have to be quick. We have another Home Run Derby contest at six.”
Mom asked if I really needed to go back, and I explained my need to defend my title. She rubbed her forehead and gave in. I scooted out back by the garage, the grill, my father, and the Zahalka’s. My Mom followed with the butter and salt & pepper, and my sister brought a bottle of cold milk and glasses for everyone.
Sweet corn and sweet butter on a sweet summer day. The conversation at the picnic table was light and fun, and sweet memories bounced about as if in a pinball machine. The corn was delicious. I ate six cobs, my Dad seven. The women each ate a polite three. Everyone was full.
I was so full, I laid on the lawn and fell sound asleep. I woke up to a setting sun, and the severe disappointment not having gotten to defend my Home Run Derby crown. I was crushed. My Mom apologized for not waking me. I lied. I told her it was no big deal. I asked if her headache was better. She said it was gone.
“Want to count stars?” I asked.
“How sweet of you to ask Billy. Yes I would.” My mom stretched out on the lawn next to me, and draped her apron over her shoulders. The wind off Lake Michigan was picking up, and the women all complained of being chilled. My Dad warned them to enjoy it while they could, as August was sure to be a furnace once again.
We counted 106. We saw one shooting star, and a rind of moon. I told my Mom that we could have just corn for supper anytime. She laughed. We both agreed it was great to have an excuse to eat a whole stick of butter.
Such a sweet memory. Such a sweet taste – corn on the cob. The sweetness of summer in 1959. Except for my sister, pretty much everything was sweet.
I think that is missing these days. The sweetness. I miss it. I wish we could ladle sweetness all over this world. Maybe the best we can do is still seek it. To be sweet to one another. Even sisters and brothers. To still believe it makes a difference. It does, you know. A little sweetness can go a long long way today.
Funny, but I think following Christ and being sweet are not one and the same, but they sure are parallel paths. They may never cross, but I suspect they are headed in the same direction.
Reverend William R. Grimbol has spent the past 30+ years helping people create and develop strong spiritual connections with loved ones and God. He is also a published author, with over a dozen books to his credit.