When I teach the idea of “reflections” in my Higher Geometry classes, I often explain it by talking about reflections in a mirror. I found myself thinking of this recently as I realized that the summer is all but behind us, becoming very much a mere reflection in the rear-view mirror as we power into fall.
These are the waning days of summer, when the warm weather fades behind what is expected to be a cold winter, something we can be sure of, almost as surely as the sun sets behind the clouds over our nearby lake. As we face the inevitable end of summer, I find myself looking back on these last few months with both fondness and some regret. Fondness because they were wonderful days spent in the warmth of the sun and of the company of my family, but regret because one never gets as much done over a summer as one thinks one will.
This was a summer that saw my daughter grow at a breakneck speed. It began with an encounter in a store as she and I were arguing about the length (or lack thereof) of a pair of shorts she wanted to buy. Just as the conversation was heating up, a woman approached us saying “that can’t be your daughter!”
Expecting to hear a lecture from a stranger about my daughter’s less than stellar behavior, I was surprised to find that it was my own difficulty with “face blindness” that did not allow me to recognize a former co-worker in a setting where I had never seen her before. Once she re-introduced herself, I knew who she was and realized why she was alarmed that my daughter had grown so much since the last time she saw her. Indeed, I spent most of the summer hearing people tell me that my daughter was growing up so fast, and on several occasions I stood next to her as we compared heights to see if I was really still the taller one. I still am, at least for now.
This was the first summer since I was five years old that I spent without my sister. The entire summer, and the painful family vacation were more milestones in what a friend told me would be a “year of firsts”; the first Christmas, the first birthday, and now the first summer without my dear sister. Indeed, in many ways it is hard to realize that she is gone, as I keep expecting to hear the phone ring, as it did so often, with her calling “just to say hello.” I used to think that such calls were for no reason in particular, but now I realize that they were for the most important reason there is; to just spend time together.
This was a summer when I got enough academic work done, and even more creative work done. It was, however, a summer that I spent with a constant feeling that I was ignoring work I should be doing. One mother told me a story of how her child was supposed to read fifteen minutes a day each day in the summer, and upon completing each set of fifteen minutes, was supposed to color in a part of a paper he had been given for recording his progress at the end of the school year. His neighbor is a teacher, whose child also attends the school that gave that assignment, and about halfway through the summer, the teacher pulled the little boy aside and announced to him “summer is for fun. Here-let’s take care of this.” He then colored in all the sections of the paper that needed to be filled in before the fall. While I don’t completely agree with his approach, there is something to be said about the fact that summer is for being lazy and for letting our brains recharge.
This was the summer in which my daughter learned how to skip stones across the lake. It was the summer in which she became, once and for all, the strongest swimmer in our family. It was a summer with entirely too much rain and not enough sunshine, a summer in which the sunshine eventually appeared only after school started up again, and one in which what heat there was led to a devastating tornado on our Ursuline Campus. Indeed, I suspect that around here, it will always be known as “the summer that the gym was destroyed.” It was a summer that is perhaps best seen in the rear-view mirror, as we begin a new adventure of a new academic year. And so, I wish all my readers the best as we transition to a new season and a new semester. May the upcoming weeks and months bring excitement and fulfillment, and no destructive storms.