The stores are filling up with decorations for Christmas. Yesterday I shopped at one of the craft and hobby store picking up little glass holders for votive candles. I walked into a crush of Halloween and Fall decorations. Marked for quick sale, brash pumpkin orange and glittering golds were everywhere. Scarecrows fit for propping up against your mailbox with a hay bail or corn shock waved at me as I passed by. Where they ended Christmas began. Garlands abounded with holly berries and glittering dance ball like globes of red and silver. No wonder we feel like the years is passing too quickly! We are rushed into each season by the need of retailers to make their bottom line.
The store was busy. Everywhere creative crafters browsed. Some were making last minute preparations for Halloween decoration. I picked up some Christmas garland for my mantle in the living room. It dawned on me that as the Christmas Holiday unfolds, I might feel less than excited about decorating so I might as well strike while the iron was hot.
The 4th of July will never be the same for our family. Not that we were ever the ones to hang flags or put off fireworks. There is a car show every year about that time that a well respected car club sponsors that my husband likes to attend. Sometimes family comes to visit, to escape the heat of the coastal plain and places further South. We don’t bar-b-que or invite folks over for a picnic. Our family has always been one for small private celebration of all the holidays. We are selfish that way.
The town in which we live used to sponsor a fireworks show right in the middle of town on the front steps of the courthouse. They would close main street and reroute the traffic. People would come with lawn chairs and there was music and some street vendors. When it finally got dark the fireworks would begin. Often we took our chairs and sat in a church parking lot off to the side. Apparently, rumor has it that burn marks were found on the courthouse roof, so the fireworks have been moved to a rock quarry near town. We went last year to see how it would go. Maybe if you had been at the rock quarry gates looking up it would have been spectacular, but at the distance from which we had to view it, it was disappointing to say the least.
I forgot that they were doing that again this year. The 4th was on a Monday this year. I don’t remember when we went to the funeral home to make arrangements for our son. It might have been on the 4th of July. Since he was an organ donor it took awhile for his body to arrive for preparation. I don’t remember if it was ever talked about specifically or not, but since our son had no problem with the fact that his dad and I prefer to be cremated we decided to have his body cremated too. Our daughter came with us. We picked out the simplest of oak boxes to house his ashes. It sits now on the mantle in our den. His diploma for his PhD, his tea cup complete with tea stain and his journal are with it. I am glad that it is so close by.
My husband was at the car show when he got the call from the park ranger concerning our son. Later my husband told me the ranger was in tears when he told him that there had been an accident and that it was “bad.” My husbands brother and sister-in-law were with him at the show and they raced in horrible traffic to the hospital to meet the incoming helicopter med flight. At one point someone stopped too quickly and my husband had to brake suddenly and pull the car out of gear to complete a stop without crashing. Later his brother would compliment him on the maneuver.
I was at home having just completed a painting. I had chosen to use a dark palette. The painting is of dark clouds and two people walking away down a hill towards light. I like to put a tall thin figure in my paintings. I usually base them on my son. This time I included a figure beside him, I had decided to base it on me and since I was thinking about complimentary colors I put myself in my lime green shirt I like to hike in. When the call came I was on the phone with my sister. I don’t remember how I got ready. I do remember driving 80 and 85 mph towards the hospital an hour away. I struggle with that road sometimes now. If I ever get pulled for speeding I may ask the officer where they were that July 2nd when I wanted them to pull me and rescue me from my driving.
Our daughter and her fiance were on their way driving through Kentucky, Tennessee planning to stop and visit with some friends that day, have a cookout and camp out. We called our daughter’s fiance first, but she was soon on the phone and all their plans were quickly scattered to the winds as they plotted a direct route the hospital.
That is how we started our 4th of July Holiday. For others however, the 4th of July weekend of 2011 marks particularly poignant independence. For one it meant no more oxygen and tubes keeping him alive. He walked out of the hospital ten days after receiving our son’s heart. To two individuals it meant the end of dialysis with one of the two being a perfect match with no fear of rejection for our son’s kidney. One mother received her own son back, healthy. Children got their mom’s and dad’s back breathing freely, functioning well enough to be about daily tasks. Liver disease, pancreatitis, lung disease, heart disease , kidney disease had held these people prisoner and they were set free. We knew that there were recipients waiting when we signed all the papers for the donation. It was later that we found out about those who had received corneas, I hope they find a place to watch the fireworks next year. I sincerely hope they have a grateful Thanksgiving, a Merry Christmas with all the trimmings.
My husband gave me a ring the other morning. Out of the blue he produced a little box tied up with purple bow. He handed the box down to our dog, a clown-like miniature Australian Shepherd. Our dog took the box by the bow and trotted to the couch to chew on it. “Give it to your momma.” my husband said. The dog looked disappointed when I retrieved it from him. Inside was the ring that matches a necklace and earrings my husband gave me for Christmas this past year. My daughter took great pictures this past year during our Christmas tradition. Thankfully she took a lot of her brother who happened to be sitting beside me at the hearth. There is a picture of my son ,his chin on my shoulder looking at the jewelry when I opened the box. Our son loved how our family loved each other.
Maybe that is the tradition we will start. Random gifts given when you feel the need to give. Words of love spoken just because they well up in you and need to be spoken. Just because you never know what the day may hold you may want to keep the Christmas tree up all year. Every day is holy in its own right. Every day new life enters the world while another life exits. Some days we mark with ornaments and fireworks, some we mark with tears.