July 4th. Hotdogs and chips. Parades. Fireworks. Beach parties and backyard picnics. Good times always.
Celebrating July 4th involves that and much more for me.
Watching fireworks from a hospital room is one. My second son, John, whom I’ve written about before in the December 2008 post “Remembering John,” was born a few days before the 4th. Those were the days when a birth meant five days’ stay in the hospital. So I watched the fireworks light up the sky above the Lake Michigan shoreline—from three stories up, holding my beautiful brown-haired baby boy in my arms. First time I ever saw fireworks from anything other than ground level.
Since John is no longer with us and the holiday falls so close to his birthday, I especially grieve for him and remember him on every 4th. Growing up, he so enjoyed the fireworks and the outdoor fun surrounding this holiday.
Independence Day and fireworks also played a big part in another major memory I have.
Maine, July 4th. I was sitting on a hillside overlooking the peaceful and scenic Boothbay Harbor. My husband and I were visiting my friend Stella over the holiday. We settled into our seats to watch the fireworks light up the harbor.
Boy did they! Something went wrong and all the fireworks went off at one time. The noise threatened ear drums. We felt the shock waves while seated on the hill. In a cacophonous ninety seconds ablaze with myriad patterns and colors in the inky night sky, we watched the most awesome fireworks display I’ve ever seen.
More amazing and better? No one was injured or killed. A miracle, really. I still think of that spectacle every July 4th.
A third memory really involves several. A few years after my youngest son’s accident which left him very disabled, one of his nurses, a young man asked permission to do fireworks here so my son could enjoy them safely. We live on a lake and our neighbors agreed. So each Independence Day we host fireworks which our son organizes with great enthusiasm. Over the years his friends, nurses and their families have gathered along with our neighbors, their friends and families to watch the “fireworks” from our own yards.
What all these memories reinforce for me the link of love and friendship with a July 4th celebration. Those are the greatest gifts we can give to another, especially when we are free and independent to do so. For a true friend, a life-long love, a family love nurtures independence within each other as well as a positive dependence for each other.
I guess this is why I, for one, will always carry my memories and reflect upon them during this holiday time. It’s also why I write what I write the stories I do. I see those themes come through with each book.
Those are also the qualities I hope people will remember these qualities about when I no longer watch fireworks and celebrate Independence Day.
Do you have a special memory tied into Independence Day?