The summer of 1984 was hot and dry – just like this summer. Due any day to give birth, Skip would take my sister-in-law Ramona (pregnant, also) and I for a jeep ride – every night we would stop at Baskin-Robbins – then, ride around Stillwater, hoping to help along John Michael’s arrival, as he was a couple of weeks overdue. My brother Jim had just graduated from college and was a new accountant for Price-Waterhouse – stuck in western Oklahoma counting grain in silos – or something like that.
Every summer for the next 25 years would find us celebrating somewhere special – a vacation or just a favorite restaurant and movie – not one birthday did we ever miss celebrating together. I can remember almost every movie we ever saw on the 27th….. Batman, Robin Hood, Tombstone, A River Runs Through It, Field of Dreams. The decorated cakes…. A baseball field, a hockey stick, and on the 16th – a jeep on top of it meant the blue jeep would be his for the next two years – the same jeep we would ride in before he was born – the same blue jeep that still has a home with me. Summer of 2000 – my daddy passing and John Michael at 15 headed out to England, Wales and Ireland for a month – bittersweet summer memories.
Fast forward to 2022….. What a summer. It began with this “senior” taking the high school seniors to the beach, beginning a new job, and then the passing of my mother. John Michael loved my parents. After my daddy passed, John Michael loved doing things for my mother and having her come see us. She loved coming to see us in Tennessee – driving the other jeep to the beauty shop, meeting all of John Michael’s friends from both church and school, going with us on church ski trips, to Atlanta and Birmingham to watch him play ice hockey…. Then, after going to college, he would take mother to eat at Pete’s Place, where daddy took her on their first “real” date. She would go to Mom’s Weekend with me at OU. This summer – The Summer of 2022 – so nice to have all our family together, but bittersweet again that it was to gather to say goodbye to my mother. I won’t dwell on this summer, nor will I be sad when the long, hot summer nights turn to cool, fall evenings.
Life…. We never know which road our journey will take us on any given day. I realize that the ones who love you the most and always unconditionally are your parents, your children and your spouse. My journey now takes a new turn… not sure what bends along the way it will take me, but I when I look back to my summer stories, I realize what a blessed life I have lived – thankful for parents who made their children’s summer stories fun and full of love, thankful for a husband who always put his wife and son before anything else except God, and especially thankful for the 25 years I had being John Michael’s mama – for he was truly a blessing to everyone he met. A life short-lived, but what a well-filled life he had; my mother said many times, “John Michael did more in his 25 years than most people do in a lifetime and left a smile wherever he went.”
Happy Birthday, my sweet boy!