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Suddenly, That Day, That Summer

For all things that happen in life there are a few instances when a chance encounter abruptly changes the direction of ones life. Was it love at first sight or was just a passing fling? But, in the summer of `67 that chance encounter where loves first flower blossomed in the August moon just happened to Greg Smith. The events of that particular summer profoundly altered the decisions Greg was to make through-out his life. By mid June of that year Greg was hired on as the head lifeguard at one of the lakes most prominent family retreats. The club pier and the beach where cool sparkling waves of water came gently rolling in was the place Greg would call home for the next 2 1/2 months.

Like all staff members each one pulled double duty. All except the two cooks who had to prepare meals for over 300 guests and staff. It was Greg's second job after his shift on the waterfront to make sure the evenings camp fires and fireplaces were set up. Those cool summer nights made for the perfect setting for sitting around a roaring camp fire or sitting inside your cabin next to a burning fire in the hearth. The retreats main lodge had a huge stone fire place that was the setting for many to congregate after the evening meal.

When Greg first arrived he made friends very quickly. He even became center fielder for the association's baseball team. It was always a summer tradition to play baseball with other associations and clubs that were scattered all around the lake. It wasn't his batting average but his fielding that Greg helped the team to go undefeated for the very first time.

As the summer wore on through Greg's watchful eye the only real emergency on the water front was recovering the many beach balls that always seemed to float way out into the lake. We have to remember that in the 1960's lifeguards used their strength, cunning, and agility in performing water rescues. Lifeguards around the lake were only outfitted with a safari hat and a whistle. The association had a back up row boat but by the time it was launched the rescues were already done. But, that particular summer that boat just sat idle on the pier ramp. The key to that successful summer was the preventative measures performed by the lifeguards that ultimately prevented any major incident before it happened.

It was the first Monday in August when a new group of families arrived. But on that particular Monday when the first group of swimmers began coming down to the waterfront Greg was already in the water cleaning the marker buoys that separated the beaches shallow waters from the drop off to deeper water. Out of the corner of his eye their on the sand stood a dark haired beauty unfurling a beach towel. Suddenly, somehow Greg notice a sparker in her eye as she gazed where he stood chest deep in water. Quickly Greg turned his attention back to the marker buoys. After finishing scrubbing the last one Greg dove under the attached rope and swam over to the deep end ladder on the club pier. Climbing out on to the deck Greg turned to look back and sure enough that gorgeous girl was gone. The rest of the day even though was uneventful except for a few beach ball rescues Greg couldn't get the sight of the beautiful girl out of his head. Was it a mirage, a figment of his imagination, or a fantasy conjured up in his mind if for just a brief moment an emptiness in his life fulfilled? Hoping against hope all Greg could think about that night was seeing her again.

The next morning was yet another scorcher. This being August even though in Wisconsin the summer nights are cool the days often rise into the low 90's. Today would be just another dog day in August or though he thought. As Greg finished swabbing down the association's pier when out of nowhere came a soft "Hi" As Greg turned around there she was a smile so infectious Greg immediately caught the fever. " Could you help me find my beach towel I left here yesterday." Before Greg could answer she put her hand out to is "My name in Nancy what is yours." "I'm Greg the lifeguard." "I kinda figured that when I saw you yesterday." Before long they were telling each other about themselves all the while Greg opened up the foot locker next to the lifeguard row boat and reached in to retrieve the assortment of left towels. When Nancy saw hers "That's it." Greg seized the moment and asked "Want to go for a boat ride after I get off." Greg had his families power boat moored close by. From that moment on for the rest of the week Greg and Nancy were inseparable.

For Greg it was love at first sight. They often say that love at first sight happens so rare. But for Greg to have been smitten so easily and so fast only deepened the emotion he felt. A burning desire to always be with her. As the week passed by where every moment shared memories were pressed into the pages of Greg's mind. Memories that carried the flames of desire burned deep with each passing day. It was nearing the last day before Nancy's family would go back to Milwaukee. Greg could see a change come over her as he held her hand. A stiffness that showed a reluctance to show the emotions that had prevailed ever since they met. At the time Greg thought nothing of it. They kissed and said they would meet later that night at their favorite hiding place behind the lifeguard shed.

A light rain was falling just around 10 that evening. There stood Greg umbrella in hand waiting so patiently behind that shed. As the rain fell even harder as the time passed the love of his life never did appear. It was half past midnight when Larry showed up. Larry was the assistant lifeguard who knew that Greg was so involved with this girl. They say one can see very clearly when one is on the outside looking in. Where Greg all he could see was a dark haired beauty with eyes so blue not knowing that a wicked game was played on him. From the very first day when Nancy and Greg met Larry tried to warn Greg not to fall so hard.

Denial has a way of soothing the pain of a love that was lost. For Greg the next morning the rain was still pouring down but the waterfront remained opened for any brave soul to venture in. Hoping against hope Nancy would come Greg stood vigil. It wasn't until later that day when Larry came down and said she is gone. "Their family left late last night." As if a knife was thrust into his heart the tears of anguish not sorrow or remorse but tears of knowing how love could hurt so bad fell like the rain drops from overhead.

For the remainder of that last month of summer all Greg could think of was try to find her and where her family lives. So consumed with emotion of a love that was gone where any other girls attempts at getting Greg's attention were completely unnoticed. All Greg could do was recount the days and nights of a week so rememberable nothing else seemed to matter. It as though a self protective shield enclosed Greg's persona. A shield that would detach himself from the harsh realities of becoming emotionally involved again.

As the summer came to a close that detachment, a resolve orchestrated a commitment to become stronger and gain inner strength of character to off set any chance of being conjoiled into a love relationship with any other girl over took Greg's personality. It wasn't until many years later that Greg finally located Nancy. Reluctant to see Greg she finally consented. Not a word of sorrow or remorse came forth only a shadow of emotion where no smile was shown. As Greg said goodbye all that remained were the memories of a blissful week of that day, suddenly that summer.