End of the Season

We didn’t say a final goodbye to anyone.

July 31, 1976, was a beautiful summer Saturday and, the diary reports, “that’s a good feeling.”

While all the campers at Shamineau trudged up to a last late-morning service, Loren, Sherri and I packed our stuff into the Volkswagen and drove back to Minnetonka, arriving around 2 that afternoon.

I’d come down with Loren’s ’flu, and had a fever of 104. At home, I called two friends but crashed out, sick all night.

It was the beginning of the end of the season.


Just over 31 years later, I’m standing outside my parents’ back door in Florida. Thanksgiving 2007 is over.

I’m on my way out to the rental car that will take me to Tampa, where I’d catch a flight back to Minnesota.

Mom was the last to see me off, standing by the other side of the screen door. I think I waved goodbye.

I’ll never forget her look—one of abject sadness, like someone looking out the window of a train as it’s leaving the station.

A look that said, simply, “This is the last time I will ever see my eldest son.”


What constitutes a final goodbye?

In the 2007 journal there’s no mention of that last moment with Mom. It was just too terrible to write about at the time, so I buried it. But the look on her face will always haunt me.

[Horrified editor interjects: “the look on her face will always HAUNT” you? What the hell does that mean? What did you expect? Should you have rushed inside and said, “Mom!” grasping her in your arms and holding her tight, like all good people who have ever loved somebody would’ve done knowing THEY WOULD NEVER SEE THEM AGAIN? Are you a cold-blooded reptile? Outside of that, your elaboration was spare to the point of privation.]

And leaving summer camp that July 1976, I’m surprised—no mention of Lisa. I didn’t say goodbye to her? What was that about? Was something else going on? I don’t know. It’s not in the journal.

By Monday, August 2, I was back to work at the Club, but still sick. After an over five-hour shift, I clocked out at midnight.

The sun, beach, games, girls, and freedom receded into the past. It was back to the grind.

Back to reality.

The next day Mom and I went to the Marina Shopping Center in Spring Park, across from the A&W. She grocery shopped at the Red Owl.

I still had Linda on my mind. After catching a bus to my piano lesson with instructor Don Standen at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts one Wednesday at 2:15 (who, by the way, failed to show up), I went to see if Linda was home.

As I left the arts center, I found a placard that read: “I Want A Divorce,” so I brought it with me just to surprise her. No dice. She wasn’t in.

All that August I punched the time clock at the Club, hung out with friends Steve and Skeeze, paddled down the Cannon River with our church group (Linda was there, too), and took in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” and “The Return of the Pink Panther” with some friends at the Navarre Drive-in.

Summer was winding down. The kitchen calendar marked the official ending date: Wednesday, August 25. Back to high school Thursday. Back to the grind.

Back to reality.

On Tuesday, August 10, I wrote in the diary: “I’m madder than hell this evening. Goddamn mother.”

It seems that my buddy Skeeze, Sara Berquist, Loren’s girlfriend Sherri and her sister Petey had stopped by our house to pick me up for a night out. Mom balked.

I don’t record the reason, but I’m now wondering if it’s because there would’ve been three girls and two boys, which wouldn’t have meant to me what it may have meant to Mom.

I stayed angry with her for a good day or two. But she kept doing what she always did: picking me up at odd places at 11:00 at night, making me breakfast, washing my clothes, and generally taking care of me, Brian and Dad, too.

Did I apologize, Mom?

If I didn’t, then I failed you.

You were just doing what you thought was right.

You were giving it your all.

~ by completelyinthedark on October 30, 2011.

One Response to “End of the Season”

  1. Reblogged this on Completely in the Dark and commented:

    Reposting this chestnut and getting outside to enjoy the end of the summer! See you next week with all-new posts!


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