Memoir Summer

Lessons From Eight Junes

Photo from dalesmith @

June is definitely a time for endings and beginnings. Proms. Graduations. Weddings. New jobs. June has got me thinking about all the Junes in my life. My parents started their married life together on June 23, 1963. My son will become a bar-mitzvah next June. One of my grandmothers died in June. And one of my friends, too. I tried to think about some significant Junes in my life, and this is what was born:

• • •

Once upon a time, a November baby learned that she loved June. She played with bubbles and chased butterflies, rode her bicycle, played kick the can, and stayed out until the fireflies guided her home.

One June, the girl snapped her well-packed trunk and clipped her khaki duffel bag ready to spend seven weeks at overnight camp.

One June, the girl went to a prom in a ridiculous dress with ridiculous hair.

Four Junes later, the girl was no longer a girl. She graduated from the college she’d loved and, as she drove west in her beat-up Plymouth Volaré to live with a man she loved – prepared to insert herself into his house and into his life – she was terrified that everything was going to be different. And it was.

One terrible June, the girl sat in a room staring at a casket, and no matter how many people told her that the air conditioning wasn’t on too high, it felt like winter in that place.

One June, the girl found herself in New Orleans. She had finished her first year of teaching in a city that smelled like magnolias and crawfish. It was the hottest summer of her life and it lasted until November.

In a blink, it was June again. This time, she looked in the mirror and saw she was no longer a girl. She was seven months pregnant; her hands and ankles had swelled in the heat. As she fanned herself, she daydreamed about the future. Also, she ate a lot of watermelon.

One June, the November girl moved – along with her husband and her son – into a home nestled in a neighborhood with flowers and trees and children. And as she hung up her summer sundresses, she remembered bubbles and bicycles and butterflies, and she knew she was home.

This June, the woman knows there are wrinkles around her eyes – but she is less focused on herself. She sits at the computer and listens to her son, now almost 12, as he practices for his last piano lesson. The music is familiar. The clothes in the dryer bump around noisily in the background, everyone’s stuff mingled together. Hopefully, for many, many more Junes.

Can you share one particular memory from one particular June?

51 thoughts on “Lessons From Eight Junes

  1. June is the month of my Grandmother’s birthday, and I recall a lovely (somewhat warm) June afternoon when we had a garden party to celebrate her and her twin sister’s 90th birthday. She made it to 95, but her sister didn’t. They are both gone now, but June always makes me think of them.

    PS: I always thought it was funny that their zodiac sign was Gemini – the twins!

  2. My June memory is from my eighth grade graduation. I was named the valedictorian and was awarded a scholarship to one of the girls’ Catholic school in town. My parents didn’t have much money (my father was a school teacher) and the fact that they would not have to pay for my high school education was a big deal. I wanted to win that scholarship as much for them as for me.

    1. Marie:
      You continue to show what a loving, thoughtful person you are. Even as a child, you were always thinking of others first: what an adult sensibility. Your parents must have loved to have you around. I’m glad you have that memory to hold onto. 😉

  3. June 30, 2002 stands out as a date that will live on in infamy in my house. 7:25PM I am talking to my brother on the phone, when from the bathroom, I hear, “Er, my water just broke.” “Gotta go, see ya bro!” 10:32PM Thing 2 entered my life. Things have only gone up from there. He has been the most hilarious, most infuriating child I have ever come into contact with. He makes every day both a pleasure and a challenge. He is demanding, and selfless. He will give freely, and take selfishly. He will be nine at the end of this month, and I can’t imagine my life without him. I can truly say the world would be grey without him. Heck, just look at the picture –>

    1. Eric! This is just beautiful. What a tribute to your son. (Now, just print it out and stick it in a card with $10 – $1 buck extra for good luck – and you are done!) Seriously, what a blessing you have in Thing 2.

      I love how you know the precise times. Outstanding. 😉

  4. June–the name of a high school friend, who married before our senior year’s end, pregnant with her first child

    June–the name of my best friend’s mother, an elegant woman in her eighties, who took up learning Japanese to feel closer to her daughter who died a number of Junes ago

    June–the man who was the passion of my life, named after his father, June short for Junior


    1. Oh D’Alta:

      So lovely, such different Junes from mine. I kept wishing that I had a June person, but I don’t. Apparently, you got them all. Imagine, all that summer passion from a June. *swoon* And you got what I was going for: June is filled with passion and disappointment, hope and fear, the highest highs and the lowest lows. Thank you for sharing these intimacies with me.

  5. Gorgeous writing, Renee.

    I’d completed a post for summer along the same lines (but spanning three months).

    Mine is not done half as well.

    I’d been holding onto it and now will hold on a little longer…

    Because this was just too gorgeous.

    p.s. “Once upon a time, a November baby learned that she loved June. She played with bubbles and chased butterflies, rode her bicycle, played kick the can, and stayed out until the fireflies guided her home.” Cheers to always letting the fireflies guide us home.

    1. Julie, there is absolutely no way that I could ever do anything better than you. But I will hold onto your words because I so admire as a writer and a person. I wish we lived closer because – honestly, sometimes, you are just too far away. And I want to call you and laugh or listen to you as you try to figure things out.

      Honestly, (*two fingers raised like we did in Girl Scouts*) I would start jogging just to run in your wake. And this would happen in June.

  6. June is awesome! It’s the month my parents got married. My brother and I were both born in June. My bat Mitzvah was June 14, which is also Flag Day, by the way. As a child in Central New York, June was known as: The Start of Summer Vacation. In Florida June is known as: HOT. But it’s a great excuse to hit the pool for a few laps. My prior job started in June, and ended in June (7 years later). Last June I was in the process of buying my new home. This June I am enjoying my new home, waiting to see what July (known in Florida as: HOTTER) will hold.

    1. Ah Larisa- you stole my thunder but you did hit right. Your June memories are mine, too. But you don’t remember the wedding, of course. Forty-seven years ago, the month of June was one of the hottest on record in Rochester. The poor guys were melting in their jackets and ties and cumberbunds. I was fortunate to have chosen a sleeveless wedding gown. Beautiful memories…

      1. Larisa & Marlene: How wonderful that you have so many shared June memories. I wish some of that HOT would come up this way. It is raining again up here in Western NY.

        Thank you for sharing your Junes with me! 😉

  7. I love your memories of June. I’ve never really thought about a month nostalgically (except May, because everyone I know seems to have been born then).

    June is the end of seeding on a farm. The start of spraying. The beginning of camping. The end of school. (Hallelujah!)

    Great post!

    1. PAM! A lurker replies! I didn’t even know if you were reading anymore. Thank you so much for this shot in the arm. I just wrote on someone else’s blog that I think I need to take summer off because I can’t keep up with everything – and then you come from out of the shadows for the first time to tell me I hit it for you. This is what my fiction is like. 😉

      So maybe there is hope. Maybe I should keep on and just cut back. You know, for the summer.

      1. Oh my! You didn’t realize we look forward to all of your posts? You didn’t realize you are brilliant? You didn’t realize summer will be waaaaay too long if you go on hiatus? What will we do with OUR summer if you nap? I promise not to post pictures of you dancing on a hydraulic lift at Grandama’s if you keep posting. Should you choose to slumber you need to know I’m aces at doctoring photos. I will accept no less than three posts a week (since I consider myself liberal and fair-minded). The choice is yours. ;} Love, Grandma T

  8. So beautiful.

    It took me several moments to think of any June memory whatsoever. Finally I landed on a morning in early June.

    My eyes shot open and landed on the alarm clock. I needed to pee so bad! (Don’t worry, it’s a relevant detail.) I don’t remember which numbers were plastered on the clock’s face, but I do remember that they meant I had twenty minutes to get my butt over to the Amtrak station and onto the train that would start my journey northward.

    I thanked goodness I hadn’t counted on my alarm clock and supplemented that with copious water-drinking right before bedtime. Just in case. Thanks to that, I made it to my train on time (granted, without my sleeping bag) and timely began my journey up to Canada for a summer researching killer whales.

    June hasn’t tended to be a memorable month for me, but these moments certainly stand out!

    (I still have an ancient page on that summer, turns out:

    1. Wow: 1998! Can you imagine if you hadn’t had to pee. You would have missed so much! That must have been an amazing summer with the killer whales, not to mention your goose-tending friend. Thank you for sharing. 😉

  9. June first, many years ago, a baby boy was born. He had clubbed feet and had to wear contraptions on his legs that hooked into more contraptions on his crib. He would scream most of the night because he had to sleep in those terrible things. As he got older he was a menace. He destroyed our precious record player, drove our mother to tears when he’d beat his head against the wall during tantrums, and scared all of us when he took up rock throwing. He was a brat with beautiful green eyes and the longest eyelashes I’ve ever seen on a man. This fit, tae kwon do master died of a massive heart attack at age forty-eight. I can no longer remember the date of his death, but I know he was born on June first and I use his birthdate as my birthdate on sites that don’t really have any business knowing my true date of birth in the first place. I’m certain he’s somewhere between heaven and earth having a good laugh about it.

    1. Wow Teresa:

      With you I never know if I am reading fiction of not. It doesn’t really matter. This is an account of what should be and what, I hope, really is. I like the idea of you slipping into and out of his birth date as you might try on a pair of shoes. Thank you for showing me how bratty, beautiful club-footed boys can grow up to be sure-footed tae-kwon do masters. 😉

      1. All true. His name was Anthony Long. He was the only boy and I was one of his three sisters. I’ve also lost my baby sister Angela (lung cancer from smoking, alas). For some reason we’re being called home in reverse birth order. I’m next, so I’m trying to behave myself. We don’t really aim for heaven since we like to enjoy ourselves a bit too much on earth. We do try and avoid mortal sins since we are New Mexican natives and have experienced enough heat for this life and the afterlife. One lesson I’ve learned is to forget dates of death as quickly as possible. It allows the departed to take up that happy place in our hearts and minds much quicker. None of my deceased relatives are dead to me. They live inside me as alive and youthful as they were when they had residence on this earth. I am never lonely. ;}

      2. “One lesson I’ve learned is to forget dates of death as quickly as possible. It allows the departed to take up that happy place in our hearts and minds much quicker.”

        Teresa: I love this, and it allows me to now feel guilty for remembering the dates when people have passed away. Like you, I remember birth dates. My grandpa – born 9/9/09 – had a cool one. Also like you, those whom I love live forever inside me. Unlike you, sometimes I pine for them and feel cheated for being taken too soon.

      3. LOL! I’m a mother and a grandmother. Laying guilt is our job! It’s okay to remember dates of death. You’ll find that when you get old, the memory bank is pretty full and you’ll have to make choices. Unfortunately you’ll have many more deceased to remember. Now get out there and make that 12 year old son feel crappy about something today. It’s your job too, slacker! ;}

  10. I never miss your blog – I keep our circle of friends here in Ohio up to date. I have wanted to post at imes – especially the nook vs kindle debate – but that is such a personal decision so I remained mum. As I read Atlas Shrugged – I wish it was on my nook!

    The ending of your June story about the clothes in the laundry mingling together gets me each time I reread the post. I have a summer rule that my boys have to do their own laundry – now I’m thinking am I being too mean? How much longer will I really be doing their laundry anyway?

    1. Pam: It was a very small load. Monkey is responsible for his own laundry, but on that particular day – as school had ended so successfully – I felt generous. And he appreciated the surprise of a clean bathing suit. Stick with the program! 😉

  11. I never thought of June that way, but, yes, you’re right. It is the emotionalest month. Graduations, weddings, endings, beginnings, starts…you’re so right.

    This is my 16th June as a mother…I love thinking about it that way now.

  12. Awww, this one made me tear up. Even though I’m not teaching, the month of June always gives me that wonderful “school is out” feeling– the one where you feel like you have weeks of fun and possibilities ahead of you. Also, June 7th is my wonderful husband’s birthday.

    Beautiful, poetic post! 🙂

  13. One June, 24 years ago a nurse walked into the room where I was nervously pacing, handed me a baby, and said, “Congratulations, you’re a father.”

    By some miracle I didn’t drop him. He’s a great kid (and yes, I know he’s really an adult, but I’ll be calling him a kid a hundred years from now).


    1. Wow, Wayne, I had a rather poopie day, and now I see that you were here and commented. Was this a pity post (because you saw I had a poopie day via Twitter) or were you really stopping by? (Lie to me.)

      Anyway, I’m glad that you are the father to a wonderful summer son/sun. Twenty-four… that was a very good year. 😉

      Thanks for dropping by.


  14. June is the end of the year and the time to begin renewal. As a teacher, it is time to catch up on all of the promises I made during the school year…. when school’s out I’ll…. now I pay the piper! There are plenty of great Junes – move to Venezuela, move back, move to San Francisco, move to Chicago and settle…. so many.

    1. Yes, as a teacher, June is supposed to be my time to take care of myself. Look inward and do things for me, myself and I. So why am I shuffling papers for next semester? Sounds like you have had many great travels in June! Carry on! 😉

  15. What a beautiful commemoration of summers past. So stunningly lovely.

    Mine is more of a collective memory. The joy I felt that last day of school. As the bell rang every year, the freedom of a whole glorious summer stretched out before me was the most intoxicating feeling. To this day, I can still conjure up that pure sense of bliss. One of the happiest times of my life, and I have had some happy times.

    1. Hi Joann:

      At my son’s school, in year’s past, the bus drivers have all honked their horns in unison. For a long, loud time. This year, however, they didn’t do it. (Or maybe I missed it?) Either way, I am with you: June is definitely about that “intoxicating feeling” of sweet freedom. May it forever be that for our children. 😉

    1. Aw, Eric! You are too sweet! And I’m really that my words of genuine encouragement got you off and blogging. I do think you are a terrific guy with fantastic stories to tell. Ironic that yesterday I had a bit of a writer meltdown and felt I had no business doing this anymore. But there have been signs from the universe telling me that this is not so. And you just sent me another one.

      So thank you Eric. Eleventy gazillion times. (And that’s a lot.)

  16. June was when our long long school summer holidays began – though it’s a month later for my own children. How on earth did my parents cope with nine or more week school holidays?

    1. Parents were built of stronger stuff back then. 😉 Plus, kids were more creative. We disappeared on bikes to playgrounds – unsupervised. Now, everyone needs to know where everyone is at all times. And kids beg for their technology and we have to boot them out of the house lest they sit in front of their screens all day.

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