This year, your summer wasn’t better than mine


I don’t know if you ever do this, but I have a bad habit of assuming everyone else is always having more fun than me

I’m especially susceptible specially during the summertime or Christmas break or any other vacation period.

I just get it into my head that other people’s lives are infinitely more fun. But not this year.

This year I did something that blows the definition of joy right out of the water.

I know you’re not going to believe this, but I got to mortar up the holes in our old farmhouse basement.

And I got to do it for hours and days at a stretch.

So now you’re thinking, “Say what?”

That’s what all my girlfriends said when I told them. Actually, I think they’re jealous.

While back in Michigan, my sister Tina would hand me buckets of mortar and allow me to stuff the cracks in the basement walls and floors full.

She wasn’t demanding. (Well, maybe a little.)

She hated the work, but for me it was nothing but sheer joy.

I’d sit on the damp floor in that cool basement and she’d hand me this wet paste that I’d rub into the floor cracks in this soft, gentle circular motion that would leave me incredibly happy.

She’d grumble, but I’d sing, typically the song, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelu-u-u-u jah.”

And, no, there were no strange gases emanating from those walls.

Then we’d stand back and survey the now crack-free floor and I’d be filled with an indescribable joy that would surely beat anything Elizabeth Gilbert could find in India, Italy or Indonesia.

It was a joy similar to that feeling you get when you reach the final “Whoosh!” and you push that baby out after 18 hours of labor.

Yes, that good. (Sorry, guys, I know there’s no comparable experience to elicit that kind of bliss for you.)

Except one day Tina was sweeping the floor and I’d run out of mortar. I told her not to bother mixing some fresh stuff up, since I was almost done. Instead, I asked her to just sweep up some shards and mix them with water, which she did.

But, alas I struggled with this latest batch of mortar. It’s not that it won’t all work — most of it does — but this one chunk just won’t do what I wish.

When I couldn’t get it to smooth out and fill the crack, I looked closely at it and realized it had a tail.

In fact, my sister had handed me a mouse to use as mortar.

Fortunately, I’m not easily frightened. Not by mice, that is.

Later, after cleaning up, we headed off to see our Aunt Mary, who’s 87 years old and looks better than she did at 57 or 47 even.

It doesn’t seem fair. In a most obnoxious manner, I keep asking my sisters and cousins how that can be.

“She’s the one who drank and smoked,” I remind them. “She’s the one who partied and partied and who danced on TV’s the ‘Big Bandstand.’ She’s the one who married and buried multiple husbands. And she’s the one who outlived all our parents. How fair is that?”

Anyway, halfway through the visit, Aunt Mary pulls out a book, “Mama’s Favorite Verses,” and says she’ll read to us.

I’m still counting on boredom (or maybe hoping for it) and wishing I were back in the basement.

Alas, Aunt Mary, bless her heart, launched into the bawdiest song I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

My cousin’s rocker jerked upright and her drink went flying. Dripping with lemonade, she’s shocked silent and turns pink.

Aunt Mary keeps reading and singing, each song more bawdy than the one before it.

Tina roared laughter. My cousin dropped her red face into her hands and sat rocking and weeping — or maybe she was laughing.

It just looked like convulsions to me.

In any case, I made up my mind, “No one can beat my summer this year. No siree. Not this time. Mine’s the best.”

Mary Colborn is a Port Orchard resident.