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Terri Simon

'Never look back?'

When I was little girl, my grandmother had the responsibility of caring for us children during the summer months. Even though we were very independent kids, it was her goal to keep us in line — although Grandma's "line" was often crooked and a bit crazy. In other words, she was there to keep us from killing each other and ourselves. She succeeded.

Summer on the farm was filled with a plethora of adventures — most were spontaneous ideas when one of us would say, "I wonder what would happen if we did ... this or that?" The results included swinging from ropes in the haymow, setting up daredevil courses in the barnyard, visiting Big Bureau Creek, which we were forbidden to go to without a responsible adult by our side (little did they know!), and much more. There's no sense rehashing the past. Even though my grandmother left this world many years ago, I don't doubt she can still make my life miserable if I disclose too much ... but you get the idea.

We were a bunch of rowdy hoodlums (by yesterday's standards), and we were having the time of our young lives. We played hard. The TV seldom got turned on. We were always getting bruised and banged up, but we never noticed. We jumped. We ran. We rode our bikes. We did all the things kids are supposed to do, including getting into our share of trouble.

Poor Grandma! She hated to discipline us. OK, she did swat us with the flyswatter occasionally, but by and large, she was fairly easy. She tolerated a lot ... and I mean a lot. Her biggest endeavor was to keep us from upsetting our grandfather, so as I look back, I understand many of her methods revolved around that endless task. Grandpa wasn't one for shenanigans, so in order for life to run smoothly on the farm, that meant she had to become creative with how she dealt with our summertime antics.

And then one day — it must have been a particular trying day for her, and we must have really been acting up — Grandma said something that shook my soul. I'm sure she never thought about how a little kid like myself would react, but after disciplining us for the umpteenth time, she said, "Somedays, I just want to get in the car, start driving and never look back!"

It didn't hit me then that Grandma seldom drove. What did bother me was the idea of Grandma leaving us behind, never looking back. I remember those words like they were said yesterday — never said out of hatred, rather out of frustration. I remember how those words stopped me in my tracks and slapped me alongside my face. If I remember correctly, her little sentence helped me to behave the rest of the summer, for the idea of Grandma leaving us behind was something I couldn't fathom.

As an adult now, I know Grandma would have never left us, and if she had known the impact of her words on this little girl, I'm sure she wouldn't have said them. Still though, 40-some years later I still remember ...

And so it was the other day when the craziness at the office had just about taken all of my strength to get through the day. I felt as if I had been beaten up pretty badly, and I still had a host of things I wanted to accomplish when I got home, though my energy had dwindled. Sunroof open; CD blaring in my car; the sweet smell of summer blowing in the air ... Grandma's words returned to me on my way home: "Somedays, I just want to get in the car, start driving and never look back!"

Of course I didn't mean those words anymore than she did many years ago, but her memory did bring a smile to my face. After all, they say what goes around eventually comes around. Who would have thought those devastating words from so long ago could be so comforting today?

BCR Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@bcrnews.com.

Putnam County Record Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@putnamcountyrecord.com.

Tonica News Editor Terri Simon can be reached at tsimon@tonicanews.com.