This photo of my parents home is the view I saw during my very last childhood memory in Derby, Maine, as I left to join the army in the 1960’s. Mom stood on the lawn after heartfelt goodbyes, and I headed off towards a field between two neighbor homes to join a buddy for a ride to Bangor, and induction. The war in Viet Nam had become very real after a classmate’s recent closed casket funeral, and my choice was to serve now to have that obligation behind me.
At the edge of the field I stopped, turned, and retraced my steps across 50 feet of lawn back towards my Mother who had not moved. As I view that photo taken from where I was standing as I turned, I recall that moment 40 years ago with a flood of memories from Growin’ Up in Maine. The upper window to the left above the back shed was the one I climbed out after the blizzard of 1961. The snow was over the shed so I just stepped off the roof onto solid snow.
The chimney above the porch was famous for snatching rubber balls as my brothers and I tossed them over the house. A bad throw was easy to retrieve by climbing onto the shed roof, across the porch roof, and up the steep pitch to the chimney. The second chimney on the taller part of the house was off limits for climbing or retrieving toys. Slip there and the 15 foot drop could be fatal.
The large oak trees towering over the house in the background were actually on Railroad Street as seen from this view, and in front of our home and our grandparents next door. Those trees were loaded with acorns in the summertime which we used for slingshot ammunition, and each fall brought a blanket of colorful leaves a foot deep for hours of childhood fun.
That last childhood memory 40 years ago, and the reason I returned to Mom standing on the lawn that day, was the sudden realization of a truth that I had to share as I drew near. “I just realized… that boy you know will not be back. This is my last moment as a child, and while I will always be your son, sadly that boy you knew will be gone.”, and with one last hug he was.