It was a hot summer night last evening. The sky clearly bright with stars and the smell of clean humid almost fall-hinted air. In the distance small flashes of light scattered around the backyard which was filled with the smell of barbecue from my neighbors grill. The sweet smell of barbecue sauce on meat sparked an awesome memory from when I was younger.
I remembered hot summer nights when I was a kid when my Mom and Dad would cook a special Saturday night dinners. These nights was special because my entire family would come together and share the evening. The summer nights were hot, so my Father would also light the charcoal grills while my Mom made salads in the kitchen. They would communicate and pass food through the kitchen window that over looked the back yard.
I would be in the pool excited for my older sisters and brothers to come home. Dad would often join me for a “dip” as he said, so he could keep cool while he grilled.
I knew the party was getting close when Dad, took out the box matches and a quart of liter fluid. I knew the grill was being lite because I swear he would use the whole quart to light those grills. The flames would be as high as the kitchen window. My Father’s lighting of the grill seemed as big as the Olympic torch, always followed by my Mom’s scream…
“Lord have mercy, Frank, your gonna burn the house down once of these days!”
Dad would laugh as he covered the coals to obtain the perfect burn for the pounds of spare-ribs and pork chops. He would grill the meat then cover it with his special recipe barbecue sauce that he simmered all day. Honestly, there was no recipe for this special sauce that I tried to learn as he made it week after week. It included squeezes and squirts of everything in the refrigerator, a bottle of open pit, catchup, mustard, pickle juices, brown sugar, lemon juice, a splash of cheap beer sometimes, and some grape jelly. Funny, even though he would make this sauce from his heart, he would always get you to taste it a few times throughout his process. There was consistent ingredient that was essential. The sauce must always be topped with marshmallows. Three-quarters of a bad in the pot, and the rest in Dad’s mouth, filling his sweet tooth for a minute.
Dinners with my family were always loud with laughter, stories, sticky hands and faces that ended with full bellies. Everyone would run throughout the kitchen and clean up so that at dusk, our swimming suits and towels would appear for a relaxing evening of night swimming. I can’t remember how but under the deck of the pool where dozens of tire inner tubes what we would take out an use to float.
The night continued with laughter as we cooled down from our weeks as we were filled up again with each others love. One of my favorite parts of the night would be the edgy, yet sweet jokes my Father would share that always ended with “Frank!” from my Mom. Mom was always so protective of Dad in everything he did.
The yard was lite with fire flies and the sky’s brightness of the midnight moon illuminating the water of the pool.
Sometimes Dad would disappear around 9 pm and we would wondered if he went to bed early because he worked so hard all the time. Until we saw the kitchen light on as Dad was standing at the counter next to an electric frying pan and a large grocery paper bag full of popcorn for our midnight snack. It would be the finale before it was time for my brothers and sisters to go home and I would head off to bed.
We would all leave the night, filled with good food, snacks, laughter and love. I remember feeling joy and comfort while jumping in bed with the best memory of these precious summer nights.