The summer of 2018 is like an overstuffed suitcase that won’t quite close, and, while I am pretty sure I’m not going to need all the stuff I’ve packed inside, I can’t think of a thing I want to take out – the good, the bad or the difficult. Odd as it may seem, I find a huge comfort in knowing what’s in there made it to this stage of the packing process simply because it was worthy. And memorable.

I figure with a little rearranging, I’ll manage to get the suitcase closed, but as I learned just this summer from a dear friend, world traveler and expert on airline baggage allowances, it’s OK to get a bigger bag, just as long as it’s not too big to carry on. So I should be fine.

My best summer? Could be. Though surely it had a few rough, tough elements. This might be a case to ask each one of us — the season first, then me — “What did the other guy look like?” There was that whole fiasco with my knee at the beginning of the season, but there was a great rescue of friends and family who got me through. And there was that resolve, faith and determination I learned somewhere and how along the way I could rely on – moment by moment, day by day – until I was walking again.

I’m a subscriber to the “let go, let God” standard operating procedure, but when that opportunity came, and my granddaughter – 17 – made choices and decisions so, so different from any I would have wanted or chosen for her… Well, I did let go, because I had to. But I probably didn’t let go with grace, which isn’t good. Then, though, when she had regrets, I was incredibly sympathetic. And am as proud as any grandmother could be that faced with the consequences, she accepted responsibility, picked herself up and dusted herself off and got on with doing what she needed to do.

My daddy would say, “You’ve got to let her be. She’s going to be OK.” I believe she will.

When she moved out, I reclaimed the room and bath she had vacated, and decorated them to my own happy place – framing cards and calendar pages and doilies my grandmother had crocheted with $2 frames I found at Goodwill, and painted. The industry of the task calmed me, soothed my heartbreak.

A month later, she posted on social media, “…no matter how much of a pain I am, you always remind me that you love me … thank you for everything.”

So I shall pray those will be enough to get her through some of life’s rough, tough moments. And I will never, ever, stop loving her, or reminding her every day, as long as I am able, that I do.

Summer of 2018 included fantastic trips to Disney World, and flying to visit friends I hadn’t seen it 34 years in Peoria, Illinois. Amazing, wonderful, happy experiences, all of which consume their fair share of space in the suitcase.

But just as wonderful, are lying in bed in the morning watching the hummingbirds flit around the feeders on my patio; taking Todd, the pointy-eared dog, out for his last walk of the night, and gazing up at the heavens to find the Big Dipper and Scorpio’s star-lined stinger; and the precious time with my 6-year-old granddaughter meeting the Disney princesses, coloring and chatting while we made our grand journey. Or my awe at the summer storm just last week, when at 3 a.m., the lightning and crashing thunder awakened me.

I complained too much and often about the string of 109-degree days in July. As my mama might have said, “Too many don’t get to complain.”

I’ve been angry at more people and on far more occasions than I should have been. I’m sorry, for the discomfort I caused them and turmoil I put myself through. Why do I forget that forgiveness is — well — like a good rain after a long summer? And why can’t I remember to be nice?

What have we learned this summer? I’m not sure I can say, except that what we knew all along. Seasons come, and seasons go. We must bravely face them and calmly accept them with what they bring. Even more so, we should appreciate them while they are here.

If we survive the heat, the drought, the changes, then we must appreciate them fully for the strength we gained in their midst.


Editor’s note: Candace Cooksey Fulton, formerly of Brownwood, is a freelance writer now living in San Angelo. She writes weekly columns for the Brownwood Bulletin and the San Angelo Standard-Times, each unique to the particular paper. She can be reached at