“I felt sorry for her,” said my mother, “…she wasn’t invited into the house. She just sat there on the porch holding the baby. I guess it was too much for them.”
My mother was referring to our neighbors — a couple in their 90s. They had married in their 40s and had a son. One day their son arrived with his wife and new baby, David.
By the time David was seven he was spending summers with his grandparents.
David’s grandmother was a botanist who spent long hours in the garden, which proved irresistible to me, too. More than once she had to scold me for jumping over her perfectly trimmed flower beds that bordered our two homes.
We also shared the same birthday which she acknowledged by giving me a most beautiful bouquet from her labor of love.
I don’t remember how we starting playing together, but David and I formed a fast friendship when we were seven. We would spend mornings at the brook behind our homes, jumping back and forth between the narrowest banks, catching pollywogs, building bridges with fallen tree branches, stepping on stones, and getting our sneakers very wet and muddy.
Toward afternoon we’d head down to the terraced section of the hill. “We can only have a few,” cautioned David. The warm, sun kissed raspberries were unlike anything I had ever tasted. It was pure torture to be allowed only three.
Once in a while, we ventured inside his grandparent’s wonderland. Their house was tiny, dark and filled with exotic plants, and an equally exotic game of Chinese Checkers. The game sat near the front window on a round table just large enough to hold the game board. The hand blown marbles were iridescence in the soft light. Much to my delight, David taught me how to play Chinese Checkers, which was the same game his grandparents played every evening after dinner in their garden.
I don’t remember how many summers we stayed friends, but my mother says it was a few, until one hot July when David’s sister came to stay with his grandparents, instead.