I remember that we would get together, during the long warm or hot summer’s afternoon to listen to the rain. It seems in my memory that this happened many times, everyday. This could just be an illusion of memory. It likes those type of jokes as it has a sense of humor all its own.
It would be with the first rumble of distant thunder, the skies just beginning to change to that soft grey. We would gather on the front porch on a side street near the downtown each of us taking one of the many chairs trying to find the spot we thought would best keep us dry. Dad would have his highball glass freshly filled with bourbon and water poured over an excess of ice and the remains of a long cold cigar stuck in the corner of his mouth. On occasion these storms could be a bit hostile. The thunder grew loud and angry either coughing racking cracks, loud or some times rolling like falling bowling pins. The pale grey could get dark as though a blanket had been pulled over the sky. It never got like night but it did sometimes turn to a slate grey green.
The wind would whip passed us and we would only leave the porch if it was impossible to stay some what dry, a little wet was to be expected.
When the sky was at its darkest on these summer afternoons would be the time that the lightening would show itself most brightly flashing wildly. I know that the loud thunder and bright electric gripped me hard with cold tingling fear, I don’t know about my brothers or mother. What chatter there was between us would cease when those explosions of thunder occurred around the bright flashes of lightening. Dad would laugh. Maybe fear grabbed him too and laughter was just his way of dealing with it.
It was a summer tradition.
In time I would laugh too, when the fear that accompanied nature’s fireworks was at it worst. This type of weather is like scotch, an acquired taste. My memory shows me and tells me that both my brothers, brother number four was still a life time away, would laugh as well, the youngest being the last to begin the practice.
In time the laughter faded and we just sat, immersed in the moment.
Over time soda pop became beer and brother and I added tobacco, all at a legal age. Mom fades from the picture in my head as well as the youngest brother. We just sat in silence during those summer storms, in the moment until I had become to busy and I fade from the picture as well.
I don’t know how often mom joined us for those events or even the youngest brother but that may have nothing to do with the actual event. It could be a trick of memory. Maybe my mothers death back in 1988 at the age of 49 changed the way of where and when I remember her. Youngest brother ceased any real participation in my life back in the early 1990s. It could be the same type of phenomena. It might be that the whole family gathered on that big front porch covered with a thick sturdy roof to watch the summer storms often and the events after the fact changed the way I remembered this.
I’ve noticed over the years, Meta and I had talked about it, that memory is quite strange. Sometimes I see myself in my own memories, sometimes I do not. Stranger yet I see the memory from strange angles, like a corner near the ceiling of the room of the event that I am remembering takes place.
The recollections of those summer storms seems like they came from a whole other life time. My Mom would die a few years after these memories and my mental collapse came on the heels of that particular event, no big surprise in retrospect. So when I look back from now I am not the same person as I was when the event I am recalling takes place.
Remembering is the the act of taking the pieces of a thing that has been dismembered and trying to put it back together. That definition comes from the back of the cassette This Winters Night by the neopagan music group, MOTHER”S TONGUE. Whenever I think about this I get the feeling that the thing dismembered has lost an indeterminate number of pieces. That the reassembly is a difficult task.
I have spent time in my own memory making serious effort to avoid blame shifting and just trying to understand what’s has happened and why. It is a task that will never be completed as memory is an imperfect thing.
Rather than remembering the dismembered it strikes me that memory is more like echos from some type of alien environment. They are mix of known and unknowable some times in a language we recognize and sometimes in a tongue foreign to our ear and under the worst of circumstances a series of sounds not recognizable as a language at all.
Trying to remember anything with any form of relative accuracy is extremely difficult when I find my mind awash in hot sharp emotion. It is possible to learn from such a thing and I have learned one important idea.
You can never know what is in the mind or heart of another person.
Its best not to assume otherwise.