Deep Summer and the Meaning of Life

Hank Mattimore
August 24, 2005
Reproduced with Permission

My Dad always refered to late August and early September as "Deep Summer." The kids are back in school. The late afternoon sun casts its long shadows on our fields, reminding us that the days are growing shorter. The smell of autumn is in the air.

In California, where I make my home, we console ourselves that we still have a couple of months of warm weather ahead of us but the days of summer are numbered. I remember, as a kid, being a bit impatient to get back to school after that long summer vacation (although it was against the kid code to admit this to my parents.)

But at this stage of my life, summer has gone by all to fast. Like a visit from an old and dear friend, I want summer to linger. Surely it can't be time to say goodbye to lemonade and backyard barbecues and basball and languid July afternoons that go on forever. Why, the Memorial Day weekend was just a couple of weeks ago, wasn't it? It's almost September, you say? Nonsense! Someone has made a mistake.

My late beloved wife, Kathleen, used to measure her life not by the calendar but in summers. Her sadness at the waning of another summer was palpable. "I wonder how many summers we have left?" she would say with uncharacteristic mournfullness. For Kathleen, her answer came all too abruptly but most of us manage to avoid even asking the question. Death is not one of the hotter topics of discussion at social gatherings.

Still, I suspect that the close of summer gives many of us pause for reflection. At least for me, it's "meaning of life" time. I take out my journal and write and think deep thoughts. I usually look up some old friends I have lost contact with, give my brothers and sister a call, tell my kids I love them. Sometimes, I'll even get down on my knees and thank God for all the blessings in my life. For me, the end of summer brings with it a desire for closure, like I need to have my house in order before the winds of autumn arrive.

The good Book says, "We have not here a lasting city." Geez, we all should know that, especially those of us who have been on the planet earth for half a century or more. But we tend to keep our mortality in the furthest corner of our mind. It takes the loss of a loved one or a close friend or the end of another summer to remind us that life, like the lazy days of July and August, goes by all too quickly.