On sweltering summer evenings in July and August, my family goes to the swim club after dinner. All of us stay in the pool until almost 9 p.m., closing time, but my parents get us three kids out of the water in time for us to shower and put on our pajamas to get ready for bed. If we are very lucky, my parents stop on the way home at the Frozen Custard stand, where we may get vanilla or chocolate soft ice cream on an airy cone. On the luckiest days, we may have the frozen custard dipped in chocolate, with a tasty brittle shell on that delicious, refreshing ice cream.
Then we go home and it’s time for me, the youngest, to go to bed. I protest and dawdle. My sister and I share a room, so she will join me later. All of the bedroom windows are open, and a fan is rotating and blowing air around, but the humidity and heat are still oppressive. Eventually, I get into bed, surrounded by my favorite stuffed animals and dolls. My mother or father reads me a story, and then turns out the light, exits the room, and leaves the bedroom door cracked open and the hall light on, because I am afraid of the dark.
Some of those nights are so hot that I can’t get to sleep. When that happens and I am up late, my mother brings upstairs (where food is usually forbidden) cups full of cold Kool-Aid, one for each child. I love the sweet drink, and I am delighted.
I remember those nights with such fondness. I was physically uncomfortable due to the heat and I was cranky about bedtime, but I was also enveloped in the most comforting love of my parents and I was happy.