I started thinking about this post earlier in the week when a Facebook friend commented that this was her favorite week of the year. I want to acknowledge that I love Fireworks (although when I was younger the noise hurt my ears). However, I am not a fan of the 4th of July.
You see, I am one of those individuals who is reminded each year that this is day my Dad died. As time moves along after a death, it is not unusual for a griever to stop and wonder what was the date of the month their loved one died. I sometimes have to think about the death of my grandfather on whether it was the 27th or 28th of the month. I don’t find myself aware of the 19th of every month (which is when my mom died). However, there is no way getting past remembering when your loved one dies on a holiday.
I do not sit around and feel sorry for myself on the 4th of July. Over the years I have participated in many cook-outs and pool parties, parades and festivals. There have been 4th’s where I truly had a great time. However, I’m always reminded of my Dad’s boating accident and how my family’s life stopped. I remember my Mom sharing that our minister that evening made the comment about how only a few miles away from our house the community was celebrating with fireworks and laughter and we were struggling with the news that he was gone.
Over the years I’ve worked with many individuals who had a loved one die – on New Year’s Day, Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, a birthday. Sadly, I also have several personal friends who have lost mothers and spouses on the 4th of July. I believe that my own experience has helped me to offer suggestions to others in regards to handling the holidays.
As I believe we live in a society that continues to feel we need everything to PERFECT – I feel this impacts how any of us deal with Holidays. The food has to be perfect, the tablescape, the house. It’s exhausting! The truth is, you never get the carefree holiday that you once had but you make the choice in how you handle your emotions and what you do.
Unless I can be at the beach, or at a pool. I’ve found that I like for my 4th of July to be very low key. Rain doesn’t bother me on this day as I find it as an excuse to stay inside and watch a movie or go to a movie. When I was working full-time, I would take days off around the 4th, not that I was doing a lot of celebrating but I used the time to do some self-care things for myself.
This year the weather is predicting a 70% chance of rain today and I’m going to do as little as possible. (and my close friends know that isn’t easy for me)
So I thought I would end this post with a memory of my Dad. He was only 40 when he died, which was 32 years ago today. (It’s so hard to ever imagine him being 72). Sadly, there are times when it is hard to think about him being in my life. He loved to be outdoors, farm and garden, golf, watch and play baseball and fish. Some of my favorite memories are going to Cincinnati Reds games and to Kings Island Amusement Park. I believe he knew everyone in our small town where he lived and Mom shared when I was born he would take me for a walk around the neighborhood and be gone for 2 hours. I look like my Dad and his side of the family. I was Daddy’s girl (and there are days I think I would have likely been more spoiled than I am if he had lived). When he traveled for work he would always bring me the peanuts from the plane (which when you are little is a BIG deal) and something from where he had gone.
Over the past few weeks I’ve found so many of his things that my Mom kept – his high school year book (where he was Prom King), photographs, cards he gave her. In time, my brother and I will need to decide how we divide those items we have left of him.
I am around 3 in this photograph where I was the flower girl at my Aunt’s wedding. I can’t say why but this has always been one of my favorite pictures of us and it is the one I display.
I like to think that when I do see fireworks on the 4th that it is his way of saying he is still with me and looking over me. There are days that I do not think about my Dad but when this day comes each year, I miss him. And I’ve learned that missing him today is OK.