The End of Summer

The End of Summer

Autumn begins on September 23rd. Thatís the official date. But the end of the Summer, unofficially perceived, and thereby emotionally calculated by events such as Labor Day, the beginning of the school year, and the end of August, is right here, right now.

In some Southern states they begin the K-12 school year in mid- to late-August. To those raised in the NYC metropolitan area, this seems like a major indiscretion, virtually denying and cheating kids out of the end of the Summer. My kids live in The South, so they begin the school year before Labor Day. It seems so unfair.

This has been a very odd Summer. At first it seemed to rain over each weekend. In June the temperatures were so low, it still felt like early Spring. By August it was sweltering and there was that Blackout. If it were possible, the Humidity Levels would have risen above 100%. Very odd, indeed.

On the good side, I had a wonderful visit with my son, who spent part of the Summer up here with me. My daughter, already scheduled to be working all Summer and doing some traveling, had spent a long weekend here in May. We looked at some college possibilities for her, did some shopping in the City, and crammed in a nice visit in a very short time.

My son built a few computers from scratch, worked on a business web site with me, and in general was great company. A teenager, he maintained ìvampire hours,î working away the nights and sleeping away most of the days. There are larks and there are owls. Day people and night people. The apple did not fall too far from the tree: like his old man, my son is a night person.

We took in some Yankee games, including going to the stadium for Old Timerís Day. You know you are getting on in years when you take your son to Old Timers Day and he remembers retired players from his early days of going to games!

The beginning of the end of Summer was when he left. Despite the temperature readings, there was a harrowing chill in the air the day of his departure.

As usual, whenever the kidsí Summer visit comes to an end, I take about a week, and mope. This year was no different, although I did try to throw myself into work to avoid the let-down and emptiness of no longer having the kids (or this year, just my son) around.

Death was a visitor this summer, numerous times. Friends, relatives, relatives of friends, and some famous people, including a friend of a relative in the case of Gregory Hines. Some were shocks, some were expected, nearly all of the deaths seemed to hold a special sort of sting this time around.

By the end of the Summer, Death was turning into a recognizable entity, a frequent visitor. In the case of one of Deathís visits, the survivors were fully prepared, and seemed to let it enter through the door, do its job, and deal with the expected realities of adjusting to the rest of their lives thereafter. In that case I found myself more concerned about the well-being of the survivors as they awaited the inevitable. They did well, actually. Death was neither a sudden nor unexpected visitor. Theyíd had time to plan, to prepare for the emotional and other onsets that come after Death has done its job.

There was even a new weekly series on Showtime, Dead Like Me, about grim reapers, the ìundead,î in the context of the program. In keeping with the mood of this Summer, I didnít miss a single episode.

Thereís one relative of mine, who has often found Death at her door. Death has been such a repeat visitor in her life, she seems almost accustomed to it. Thankfully, with the exception of a loosely related-by-marriage loss, Death was too busy this Summer to darken her door in what has become a common, almost ìusualî event.

Death certainly was busy over in Iraq, as American soldiers casualty numbers increase on a daily basis. The count of Iraqi deaths is strangely missing from the news reports. Sadly it seems Dubyaís war-for-profit (Halliburton, Bechtel, et al, all awarded contracts in the absence of any bidding) will continue. Saudi Arabia and Syria, watch out! Dubya may just see some opportunity for Cheney, Rummy and his other buddies over there, too. And, of course, we know Dubya is drooling over the oil fields thereabouts that he could award to Cheney, et al.

With the coming of The Fall we will see the new TV season, the new School Session, and an increase in coverage and the volume level of the 2004 Presidential Campaign. As the ìField of Nineî Democrats goes through the process of thinning the ranks (see Sharpton, Mosely-Braun, Edwards and Kucinich fade out before the ball drops in Times Square), there will most likely be some interesting surprises taking place.

Will John McClain switch parties, or become an Independent? Will Joe Leiberman and Lincoln Chafee finally trade party affiliations? Will Leiberman make a deal that has Dubya promising to give him the Veep position when Cheney retires, in the event of a second term for Dubya? Cheney, of course, will have to get back to running his company. That includes spending the money and reaping the profits of the projects given to them by the administration. And wouldnít Dubya look like a champ, taking Leiberman into his close circle?! Leiberman could be the [White] House Jew!

Once Kerryís people face the fact that he lacks anything even close to being telegenic, will they accept that he is more likely to become a Halloweeen mask than a contender? And will he bow out before spending many millions of his wifeís ketchup money? Let us hope so, for the sake of the party.

When will Gephart face the reality, that he, too, is not going to lead the ticket? Another unelectable Democrat, staying in there, seeming to be looking for some party favor before bowing out. And Gephart doesnít have that ketchup money to fall back on, so his day of reckoning might arrive sooner than it does for Kerry.

Howard with the nice last name, the doctor from Vermont, will lose momentum as the others drop out. This will be hastened by some negative in-fighting along the Primary Trail, and the very obvious turning of Howard D. from outsider doing it his way to just another candidate, being a politician, and showing the true colors of an opportunistic and politically motivated animal. His position changes are too closely aligned to polling and political expedience, and the major stage will prove to be too much for him. His campaign has no Foreign Policy position papers, and his preparation is too thin. As a diversion and entertainment he has been very successful. But when push comes to shove, and the nitty-gritty with regard to issues and positions, plans, even a team, show him to be play-acting, he will bow out.

Or, worse, he could team up with Ralph-the-spoiler-Nader,and the two of them could advance their pocketbooks and egos with a tertiary campaign. Wow, would that ever make most of the Democrats angry!

Al Gore and Wesley Clark will come into clearer focus. Joe Biden will start to play a ìsenior advisorî role. And donít count Gary Hart out of it just yet, either.

A month from now the leaves will be falling from the trees, the official First Day Of Autumn will have passed, and the second year since September 11th will have transpired. One is reluctant to use the word, ìanniversary,î whereas milestone or marked passing seem more apropos.

On a more positive note, a month from now will find the Baseball Season entering into the Divisional and Championship Series, and then the final showdown, the Fall Classic, the World Series.

Now thereís something to look forward to. And a way to end this somewhat morbid essay on a positive note.