We never did much in the way of activities that took place off the farm as kids. Growing up on the farm was about farm chores and going to school. The fourth of July was a highlight in our lives, along with hunting Easter eggs in the hay meadow.
Back then, they had a fireworks extravaganza at the fairgrounds. There is no other word to describe this spectacle of color. Daddy would buy bottle rockets and sparklers from the fireworks stand in town and we could enjoy them at home with his guidance, but once in awhile we’d talk him into taking us to the fairgrounds for the fourth of July show.
We would load up the old pink and white station wagon and head out for the fairgrounds, which was on the far side of the little town we lived three miles away from.
All of us kids would be chattering away all the way there, so excited to go.
Once we arrived, we had to jockey for a position with all the other vehicles that had already arrived. From what I remember of the fairgrounds, the ground was very uneven, a lot of dirt with a few grass sprigs and clumps here and there. People would park anywhere they could find a spot.
Once that car came to a stop, we couldn’t get out fast enough. We would climb on the hood, or the top of the car, and get in position before the show started. Usually the bickering over spots went on until the show was under way.
Then all you could hear was “oooh’s” and “aaah’s” as we all got quiet to watch the display. This was like magic with a crackle and pop and then the explosion of colors in different shapes that seemed like they were materializing right over our heads.
Each one that went up was prettier than the last. They would flicker and twinkle until they disappeared, only to have another take its place.
While this was going on, we would be sweating in the summer heat and the mosquitoes would be eating us alive. However, we paid no never mind to this, slapped the mosquitoes away and went on with our comments to each other about how beautiful the fireworks overhead were.
We relished the finale when they would fill the sky with all the colors of the rainbow. At the same time, we were sad the display was about over and wished it would go on forever.
Once back in the car, we would talk about it all the way home as well as scratch our mosquito bites and complain how bad the bites were. Yet, when the fourth rolled around the next year, we couldn’t wait to get in the car to go and watch another fireworks display.
The fourth of July today, as adults, is bittersweet because it’s also a time to remember our daddy who died on this day in 1980, at the ripe old age of 55. He had many health issues and definitely was gone too soon.
Sure, the fireworks are splendid with all the razzle-dazzle, but it’s also a time for reflection of those good times as innocent children. I realize that Daddy was so tired all the time from the very long days of hard work he did in the fields, but he knew how certain things were so important to us that he didn’t want to disappoint us. I know now that we probably couldn’t even afford the few fireworks he would bring home, but I think he wanted us to know that 4 July was something to celebrate.
When I look back on those times today, it also reminds me that life on Earth is too short sometimes and not to take anybody for granted because tomorrow is always a new day and things can change in an instant.