Today is the 4th of July. And it has some bittersweet moments for me and my family. We celebrate and remember our country’s independence and our continued stand for freedom in so many ways. But it is also the birthday of our belated, beloved father.
Every year we all celebrated the 4th of July with my Dad. Whatever he wanted so long as we were with him. He loved to cookout, grill, and have a few beers. He loved baseball, the Cubs, and Budweiser. He loved his wife, his kids, and his country.
My kids loved going to Grandpa’s for the 4th because they enjoyed the cookout and cake and presents. Our oldest would try to talk to him and tell him how great it was to have a birthday on the 4th because “everyone is celebrating and there’s fireworks.” My youngest, my deep-thinker, was always a little melancholy on the day of because it made him think of Grandpa getting older. It was like he was sad he would one day leave us. Not surprising that in 2008 when my Dad did leave us for his home in heaven, my youngest (then 9) consoled me while I was crying with a simple, “Mom, he’s in a better place now. God will watch over him.”
On this day, our country’s Independence Day, is still our Dad’s birthday. It still reminds me of burgers on the grill, watermelon, and Dad in his chair telling stories. He was in the Air Force, was a volunteer fireman, and our father. These are good memories that I hold dear to my heart. I am sure you all have some of those. Maybe you have some from your childhood? I sure do.
When I was a kid, my Dad would drive to the local park to “get a table” for our entire street (Persimmon Street) to have a picnic at the park. Each household would bring salads, chips, dips, meats, sauces, baked goods, and drinks. All the kids on the street would gather, swim, and have the best times of our lives. In preparation, my mom would be gathering the food, my brothers would gather chairs, and my sister and I would gather towels. You probably have memories like these. Keep them close, it’s what makes us all the same — even with our differences.
God Bless America, my Dad, my family, our soldiers, and you and your family. Today, we are all family.