Inspired by writerswrite.com prompt, “Write about the smell of summer.”
1989. In Vicky and Luverne’s tree, MN.
I’ve been wanting to write about my mom lately, anyway; she’s been having a reawakening of sorts, so this prompt fits right in! My answer to the smell of summer would be, sunscreen. The smell has always made me feel beautiful and relaxed, maybe because it signifies a relaxing day at the beach and the slight sunny glow that results (no burn, please). Well, lately, my mom has smelled of sunscreen quite often! This in itself makes her seem 20 years younger. She used to wear perfume a lot, and being allergic, I always asked her to tone it down. I do not associate the smell of perfume with youth; scented lotion is much better. But now, she more often smells of sunscreen than not. It is all part of her new goal of being active and getting OUT.
My 75 year old mother should give lessons on how to stay young. Besides working part-time in a grocery store, she has been going to a Senior Center for a couple years now, and made several friends. She usually goes to their exercise classes. I’ve accompanied her once or twice, and I would say, they are really exercising, and it’s sort of fun. They go to coffee afterwards, and they are a delightful bunch. One of them is writing a book, like I am, and another loves to read everything, even Fifty Shades of Gray. (She’s 80, by the way). I believe this group of friends is part of what keeps my mom young and active. But that’s not all…
She started chatting with our neighbor, longer than necessary. Yep, I’m sure other neighbors are looking and thinking, something’s going on there. Well, he’s not yet 60, somewhere in his 50s. But who cares, it’s just talking, right? Well, it is, isn’t it? I told her not to get drunk around him; I think she has already broken that rule. Well, yeah, she drinks socially now, more than before, but I’m not here to judge. In fact, she had two-for- one margaritas when we went out for Mexican the other night, and got really silly. Heaven forbid I tell her what to do, but I did suggest she slow down and drink more water. (She didn’t). My son spoke up and said he’d drive her car home. Bless his soul. I got past the urge to set limits for her, when I came home one day and they were outside the garage, standing there, chatting, shooting the breeze. I should explain, I live with her; we bought a house 8 yrs. ago, and my now 20 year old son lives there, too. So, on this particular day, I drove into the driveway, and said, “Hey, kids!” Well, that’s just what they looked like! As if they sneaked out to see other, young love in the works. They both laughed and Mom loved the role reversal. So I’ve decided to let her have her moments. If this makes her feel good, it is not my place to limit what she is doing or judge it.
He bikes a lot, and eventually they went biking together, for a 6 mile ride. She has since become quite regular with it, and if he’s working or busy, she goes by herself, for 6 to 9 miles. So evidently, the new habit is sticking, and she won’t be relying on him to go bike riding with her. She seems determined to seek out her own happiness and not depend on any man for it. I say, Go Girl! Last week, she bought a new bike. I don’t think she needed it, but it sure is a sweet ride and seems very comfortable. Sometimes she is up before me in the morning, and gets out riding her bike before I have even showered. With the advent of summer and the heat, she started wearing sunscreen. One night I noticed the sunscreen smell and realized it was her. The scent of the beach came to mind, relaxation, sunshine, and lazy waves. But most of all, a feeling of youth.
The photo above is of me and my mother, in 1989. We’d climbed a tree on my Aunt and Uncle’s farm in Minnesota. She said she did it just to prove she could. What a happy memory. She and I laughed about it the other day, because she couldn’t get back down! (I think someone had to help her). But this is one thing that keeps my mother young, and I hope it has rubbed off on me. She doesn’t exclude herself from anything because of her age. Sure, we had a good laugh about the tree, but she did prove that she could get up there, so who cares about getting down! She still has a youthful attitude towards throwing caution to the wind. And a somewhat innocent belief that things will turn out just fine. That was a wonderful summer memory. I don’t see it as the past, either, it is just another example of how my mother has lived, and still does, live her life with an attitude that keeps her young. So the smell of sunscreen is still something I associate with beauty, relaxation, and youth. And now I often detect it on my mother: the smell of summer.