Is July taking its toll on your joie de vivre, Gentle Reader? Forcing you indoors away from gardening projects? Forcing you to start your day in crisp white linen only to find yourself a sodden mess of accordian pleats at day’s end? Forcing you to think about packing your bags and relocating somewhere else — somewhere where it is not so wretchedly and relentlessly hot? Because that is how Mrs. Teabody feels about a July as hot as the current one. Mrs. Teabody long ago abandoned visits to public pools for reasons that would be patently obvious were you ever to catch her in a bathing costume – – AND YOU WON’T – – (Mon Dieu!), but she is remembering with great fondness being able to plunge into a pool to cool off on the hottest of days and perhaps that is your way of staying cool. Whatever your method of bringing your core temperature down to a level of comfort–and Mrs. Teabody always recommends a glass of lovely iced tea – – do find something that works. Summer is fleeting and you want to wring out every last second of pleasure while you can especially since adequate rain has everything so lush and green.
Do you have a loved one who celebrates a July birthday? Do you find your July friend different from all your other friends? If not, you may have encountered a poser because Mrs. Teabody has always found those born in July to possess some sort of extra gene for fun, some special ability to lighten one’s spirits, a joie de vivre that is almost certainly genetic. My Dear Aunt Sally was the mnemonic taught by math teachers to remember the order of those pesky math shenanigans but of far greater importance was the fact that Mrs. Teabody had not one, but TWO Aunt Sallys , and the lovely creature pictured above is Mrs. Teabody’s father’s only (and therefore) favorite sister, Sarah Henry Davis. It was only after years of knowing her as the wife to Henry”Hank” Davis and the mother to Steve that Mrs. Teabody learned that Sarah (Sally) had been valedictorian of her class at Hustontown High School, that she had dozens of suitors who fought over her, that she co-piloted a small plane across the country with her friend before the war and that during her younger years, every part of her life spoke of adventure. She and her movie star-handsome husband lived in Germany for several years, and the birth of a son made their family complete. Stateside, they bought a home in Baltimore. The diagnosis of polio for her son Steve altered her life forever as she became his nurse, teacher, sounding board and guiding star for more than fifty years, her raison d’être after Uncle Hank passed and Sally and Steve moved to Huntingdon. Each year starting in the 1980’s Aunt Sally packed a bag and came to Clear Ridge for a little visit and she often trooped along with her brothers for country rides, cemetery visits, ice cream festivals, and pancake breakfasts. Any time Mrs. Teabody was in their company she was well aware that theirs was a self-contained group. As siblings, they shared genetics, a history and the good sense to love one another.
Mrs. Teabody is not certain when she fell into the habit of driving her father to Huntingdon every July to celebrate his favorite sister’s birthday, but it was after Sally decided her annual visit was a bit too much for her. As frail as they were, their eyes lit up when they saw each other and their time together never faltered or lagged.
Aunt Sally’s beautiful face, her grace and charm, her wit and warmth swim through Mrs. Teabody’s mind this morning, and she remembers sitting at her bedside holding her hand as she went ‘gentle into that good night,’ one of the great honors of her life. She is never very far away.
Last night Mrs. Teabody wrote two birthday cards– a belated one to her favorite YOUNGEST brother whose birthday is July 17 – – the same day as Aunt Sally’s – – and one to her favorite OLDEST brother whose birthday is July 26. Mrs. Teabody’s youngest brother holds the distinction of being the funniest and the most fun-loving person she has ever known. In his company an hour seems like a minute. Mrs. Teabody’s oldest brother has been and continues to be the best big brother anyone could ever hope to have. He always was and still is handsome; he always was and still is a man of uncompromising principles; he always was and still is Mrs. Teabody’s guiding star whether he knows it or not.
Joie de vivre is a human quality that is more valuable than gold; a loving friendship with a sibling is among the most precious relationships on earth. Having two brothers with July joie de vivre is better than a simple double hit–it’s a bases-loaded grand slam. Enjoy your day. And your family.