Parents spend a great deal of time dreaming up, planning, and preparing grand events and special occasions for their children. In the mind of an adult, those first “big” experiences for their children are extremely important. A parent hopes that it will always be remembered by their child as the special thing that it was for the parent. I was blessed throughout my life with two loving parents who created some excellent, and grand, first experiences. Events such as my first roller coaster ride, big birthday parties, and celebrations surrounding my graduations (all of them!) fill my memories.
Yet, in spite of these wonderful memories, I have realized that the memories that really stick in my mind are those simple ones. These are the memories that may have been overlooked as they were happening because they didn’t appear to be distinctly special or unique. But as a child, and particularly as I have grown and had children of my own, I have realized the importance of those “little moments.”
I don’t remember how walking up the hill became one of those little moments. The one mile road from the bottom of the camps to the top of the steep hill where the road leaves the woods was a trek – especially for little legs. But, I had a strong love for Atomic Fireballs, or, as my mom called them, “Red Hots.” She would bring a few in her pocket and we would walk together up to the top of the hill while my brother and I would burn our faces off sucking on those candies and trying not to take them out of our mouths for relief.
Those walks were filled with fun. We would sometimes sing silly songs (of which my mom was somewhat famous for), play games (infamous for her competitiveness), enjoy nature (EXCEPT the mosquitoes), and just talk about whatever. And, of course, it was important that we would always take a small stone and place it on the stump that sat at the very top of the hill to mark that we took a walk that day. These were simple things, but they were special.
When my mom passed away in August of 2016, everyone in the camps took a walk up that long hill together. We laughed as we shared the memories people had of her. I learned beautiful stories about my mom that I did not know, such as how she became buddies with an autistic boy so he would feel comfortable at church. When we reached the top of that hill, more memories were shared. Some tears were shed. And, ultimately, everybody placed their stone on that stump in her memory.
Whether or not she realized it at the time, the walk up that hill became something more than fresh air and exercise. And, as I return to Maine each year, my kiddos have begun their own walks up the hill. Good thing I inherited my mom’s ability to create songs on the fly…