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Watery Memories



Up in the northern reaches of Illinois Beach State Park, near the Wisconsin border, is a network of wetland meadows.  When I found it some 15 years ago, it immediately became one of my favorite places on earth.  Just looking at it I can feel the cool water as my bare feet plunge into it and time drops away.  When I finished this painting, my son delighted me by commenting that he should be perched on a tussock sedge nearby.  Indeed, the two of us spent many happy afternoons splashing about, tripping over the tussocks, peering into the waters for little fishes, frogs, and other treasures.  More than one cell phone met its demise here as, laughing and covered with rich black mud, we’d emerge to return to civilization, much damper than we’d planned to get.  Part of me will always be there, I realize, and so going back will always feel like visiting with a part of myself.

This weekend my son is home visiting me from college.  His interests are wide-ranging, so we’ve enjoyed discussing the changes we see happening in the world, from politics to climate.  Yesterday we needed to pop into his old pediatrician’s office to get records his college requires.  As we stood at the desk a mom entered, carrying her baby.  It made me feel a little dizzy to stand in this place next to a tall young man who is my son, where once (yesterday, surely) I carried him.  I know the emotions that are swamping me are not new in the world, but they are new in my world and so I felt moved to share them.  Maybe when it gets warm again he will go back and play in the water with me…

17 thoughts on “Watery Memories

  1. You nice story reminds me of our own experience. Since he was a little boy, our son loved his trucks and the idea of flying big airplanes. In junior and high school, his interests moved to music and playing jazz.

    His junior year of college saw him focus on engineering and then the local ROTC. He renewed his interest in flying planes. Upon graduation last May with his MS in Eng, he also was commissioned as a 2nd Lt. in the Air Force. First assignment in June was to pilot training in OK.

    In a week we will go visit him as he completes the first phase of his training. That little boy is now 25 and well on his way toward a dream. It brings tears welling in my eyes.

    Thank you for your beautiful painting.

    1. Hi Jim,

      Thank you for sharing about your son.  You must be so proud!  They sure do bring tears, don’t they?


  2. Melissa – I feel like an intruder reading such private thoughts. I hope you enjoy your time with your son, knowing you shall continue to make more memories. It is a lovely, serene painting. I had to look up tussock sedge, as I was unfamiliar with it – or so I thought. xo

    1. Hi Kim,
      oops, maybe I said too much. Sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable. I’m glad you find the painting serene, just what I was going for 🙂
      Yeah, those tussock sedges will trip you up! LOL! (We did have a great weekend, my son and I)

      1. Oh no, I didn’t feel uncomfortable, I actually admired the way you were able to express such deep emotions. I thought it was beautiful, and very personal. I’m so glad you enjoyed your time together.x

  3. They grow up so quickly, don’t they? I found some photos the other day of the kids when they were newborns, and I had similar feelings to your own. It seems like yesterday when I held them in my arms in the hospital, amazed at their perfectness.

    1. Hi Angela,
      Don’t those photos kill you? Sigh.

  4. Oh my gosh, yes. I keep telling myself what a good thing it is to see them all grown up and wonderful, but sometimes all I want to do is hit the “rewind” button!

  5. Thank you for sharing these beautiful memories. I have four children, the youngest now in his last year of high school, and watching them grow and remembering what used to be is quite surreal at times. You have worded this feeling so beautifully here.

    1. Thank you Joanne, and thank you for stopping by. It is surreal, isn’t it?! I enjoyed your writing as well, and am looking forward to more.

  6. What a lovely painting calling up very touching memories for you – it seems like an enchanting place to have shared so many special moments with your son.

    Looking back can be so full of yearning. As I anticipate the birth of my daughter’s first baby I remember nursing her in my great-grandaunt’s rocking chair. My grandmother had reupholstered it and given it to me when I was a young mother. And now I am reupholstering it for my own daughter, with a mixture of joy and longing for those by-gone days…

  7. Hi Barbara! Thank you. Oh, yes, the yearning is painful. I am moved by reading about your great-grandaunt’s chair, and how it will be your daughter’s. What a lovely gift, weaving together the strands of your family. It is so good that you have a grand baby to look forward to.

  8. Yes, there is something so incredibly still and beautifully tranquil in your work. It is as if you have a finger on the living pulse of Nature herself… blessings to you and your son, a beautiful, heartfelt story!

    1. Your kind words have filled my day with joy. Thank you!

      1. you are most welcomed!

  9. Melissa ~ you are indeed a multiple talent.

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