On the 4th of July, our family usually drove to my dad’s Uncle Aud’s house. He only lived in Jasper, which was only a hop and a skip from where we lived, but it seemed so far away in my young girl mind. Uncle Aud and Aunt Edith had no children, and so this was the holiday that we dedicated to them, to bring them comfort and fun into their lives. It would be our family of 4, my aunt and her family of 3, and my Grandmother and Pa. Uncle Aud was Pa’s brother, and my dad had spent many a summer working with him in Bug Tussle. Those are stories I wish I knew more of, but the two I could are no longer here to ask.
We would park near their RV and bring in our sides to the little table on the screened in porch. It would be sweltering hot out on that porch, so often us 3 girls, myself, my sister, and my cousin, Carrie, would sneak off into the air-conditioned bliss to play anything we could imagine. But before we could do that, we had to endure the heat everyone else endured along with plates overflowing in our laps, full of bar-be-que, baked beans, corn, and whatever other sides the women decided to make that year. Uncle Aud and Aunt Edith grew dahlias and entered them in contests, and they had even taken home prizes on more than a few occasions. Some of the dahlias would always be in bloom, and we would dance as close to the garden as we could get without destroying the prize-winning flowers. We would run around as children do and make our own merriment.
In the cool of the day, before it was time to leave, we would often walk down the street a few feet to the fireworks shop and daddy would pick out one something to shoot. Perhaps my sister and I would get sparklers and rarely firecrackers.
The smell of meat smoking on the patio out back is what I remember about the rare and occasional visit to Papa and Granny’s house on Independence Day. Papa would stand at the grill or smoker, and Granny would be by the stove cooking one of her famous sides and fresh grown vegetables. But we rarely spent the day with them on July 4th. Papa and Granny were my mom’s parents, and my granny now lives with the Lord, and my Papa is currently sick in the hospital with pneumonia. Hospice will be called in, and his days are now few. Life changes in the blink of an eye. A blink.
The routine changed when Aud got sick and eventually passed away. It must have been when I was older, perhaps even by the time I had left for college. Gradually, we grew apart from spending Independence Day with my grandparents. I have no idea at all when it was the last time, but if you ask my sister and I are memories of the 4th of July, still today, we will tell you of days at Aud’s.
I went to college and made new traditions for the 4th. But, today I remember the old. I reminiscence what is lost and long for a simpler time when things did not change and people were always there, death not looming in the near future. I miss my family of the past, but I relish the traditions I am making with my family now.