I Remember

By Rev. Ruth D. Fitzgerald  •  June 20, 2024


Some time ago I learned about the Welsh word, “hiraeth.” In a sense hiraeth means “nostalgia” or “homesickness.” More expansively, it means a sense of “something missing” or “missing home.” A bittersweet memory of missing something while also holding a pleasant memory. I think it evokes a feeling that is intangible, and perhaps indescribable, a feeling that goes beyond simple, naïve nostalgia and contains a depth of life experience. A summation, perhaps, of a deep desire to recover a simple, lovely, remembered time mixed with the disappointment that the time was never quite so simple or lovely or replicable.

Perhaps it is a part of the season of intentional aging that brings a bittersweet tinge to memory. Not only are we remembering the sweet, uncomplicated memories of childhood; we may also be remembering the grown-up repetition of patterns that unfailingly change in life.

Summer creeps up on us every year. The temperatures rise (seemingly faster and higher these days), the daylight lengthens, and our daily patterns change. Favorite foods come into season and we dig in the closet for our sandals.

And we remember.

I remember the cool, sometimes almost chilly, breeze that moved the curtains of my bedroom early in the morning in our non-air-conditioned house. And the unhurried quiet of the house as only my dad got ready to leave in the mornings. The hum of early-morning radio through the floor.

I remember emptying my desk on the last day of school and bringing my crayons home to use all summer. The feel of my “gym” shoes now worn outside for play. I remember that last day of school, often in a dim classroom where the teacher had turned off the fluorescent lights to reduce the heat while they read aloud to us. And then, the glorious sense of a new beginning as we rushed from the building into the after-school sunlight.

The Freedom of Summer

I remember the amazing freedom of riding my bicycle to the local library several times a week, loading my basket and backpack with as many books allowed. The absolute contentment of sitting on the screened porch reading day and night and sometimes until new light dawned the next day.

I remember roller skates on new asphalt, hide and seek in the dusk, afternoons at the municipal pool, frozen candy bar snacks. I remember my mother moving around the house as the sunlight changed raising and lowering the shades to save the furniture from fading and keep the house as cool as possible.

I remember too, the special season of fresh foods, mixed fruit salad with ten fruits that would overlap for just a short time each year—strawberries, blueberries, watermelon, peaches, plums, raspberries, cherries, nectarines, cantaloupe, grapes. Kentucky Fried Chicken for birthday suppers.

The Summer Heat

I remember hot evenings and even hotter dishwater, ironing the flat pieces, boring afternoons of babysitting, and enforced 30-minute rest time after lunch.

And I remember race riots and national guard troops at our street, a tornado, a brother’s broken arm, and a bout of pneumonia in a hospital.

Hiraeth, a homesickness of sorts, a memory that is complex, a need to revisit both the comfort of childhood and the maturing of perspective. Yearning for those days gone by and dreaming of a time better than our current epoch is too simple. The revisiting of memories and the comfort they bring is nearly always bittersweet.

I remember…


For Reflection (either individually or with a group)

Read the blog. Read it a second time, maybe reading it aloud or asking someone else to read it aloud so you can hear it with different intonation and emphases. Invite the Divine to open your heart to allow the light of new understanding to pierce the shadows of embedded assumptions, stereotypes, and ways of thinking so that you may live more abundantly. Then spend some time with the following questions together with anything or anyone who helps you reflect more deeply.


  • What summer memories seem to spring to mind more quickly as you age?
  • Are they memories of people, activities, or places?
  • Are they happy memories, difficult memories, or bittersweet?
  • Have you shared these memories with your loved ones?


Download a pdf including the Reflection Questions to share and discuss with friends, family, or members of your faith community small group.

About the Author

Rev. Ruth D. Fitzgerald

Rev. Ruth D. Fitzgerald served in parish ministry for nine years before being called into conference ministry as Area Minister for the Grand West Association in Michigan. She retired in 2023 from that position. Ruth served on the community board for Pilgrim Manor, then a United Church Homes community, and has been an active board member for the Fountain Hill Center for Counseling and Care, and Ele's Place--West Michigan (a healing center for grieving children and teens) all in Grand Rapids. Ruth has two grown children and three precious grandchildren. Travel, hiking, knitting, and reading fill her “spare” time.

View all articles by Rev. Ruth D. Fitzgerald