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Story Time: Hot summer nights

Posted on Monday, July 3, 2023 at 9:12 am

By Lorry Myers

The house was full of people because it was too hot to sit outside and play games in the back yard like we had planned. It was too hot to have a fire pit and tell stories while we roasted marshmallows. It was too hot to set up food tables and eat around the picnic table.

It was too hot for any of that.

My niece and her three young children were visiting from South Dakota so we gathered at my sister’s for a family reunion. The plans we’d made for an outdoor party quickly melted with the temperature so we filled the house instead, celebrating our out-of-town visitors. The men, including my husband, were huddled in front of the TV happy they weren’t outside.

Soon, the kids grew antsy with their indoor toys and came looking for adults to help entertain them. I work at being that person my nieces and nephews seek when they want to shake things up. Hide and go seek? Tea party with Kool-Aid? Dance contest with Alexa?

Aunt Lorry does not disappoint.

Their Uncle Randy, however, was a sideline guy. He was not interested in playing Charades, or participating in Minute to Win It, or being a part of anything that involved him being the center of attention.

He was not that guy.

Instead, my husband carried candy in his pocket and punch balloons in the console of his vehicle. Uncle Randy stockpiled Pop Rocks and Snappers and was content to be the person the little ones sought out if they needed a book read or a lap to sit on. If they had a question, or a secret; if they needed a tool, or a repair, or help with something that seemed impossible, Uncle Randy was your guy.

Everyone knew that.

To keep us entertained on that hot, summer night, the kids and I created a makeshift stage so we could have a spur of the moment Talent Show. I started the show by singing a really bad song followed by others who demonstrated Nerf gun shooting, lip-synced Disney music, or bad knock-knock jokes. All the while my little niece, Tessa, hovered in the background. Tessa is a dark eyed beauty who, at that time, was destined for first grade. In the shadows of a twin brother and an older sister, Tessa sometimes struggles to find her own place. I’ve noticed that she wrings her hands when she is uncertain and will stand off to the side watching the others with a wistful look.

For the complete column, see this week’s edition of the Centralia Fireside Guard.