Today is the Fourth of July, also known as Independence Day. It is the anniversary of the declaration of our independence from Great Britain in 1776. It was a day when flags waved proudly from homes, marching bands played patriotic music, and red, white, and blue decorations adorned windows and doors. It’s a day to remember those who gave their all for the freedoms we treasure today.
July 4th is also a day for picnics, good conversations, laughter, and memories.
This is a story about family; a unique family whose members are gently aging, but whose hearts are still as loving as the day I met them.
To start, I must go back to 1971 when I married into this family. Oh, the fun we had over the years, celebrating family picnics, not to mention the milestones in our children’s lives; birthdays, graduations, showers, and weddings. The population of our loving family grew and grew to before long, we were quite large.
One of my favorite memories is the laughter that came quickly and frequently at family picnics. The silly antics of the children playing in the creek, cards being played at the table, catching up with the girls, sharing pictures, and the snitching of chips, as we waited for the main meal to commence. Good times with good people.
Then on December 11, 1994, my husband died at fifty-one from a massive heart attack. His family was there for my children and me. I continued attending the picnics, where I could count on the laughter and caring words. Those loving family members will never know how much they helped me during those difficult years. They were, indeed, my angels.
Six years later, I met and fell in love with a wonderful man. I often say that my late husband sent him to me. The family welcomed my new husband, which touched my heart beyond words. That was nineteen years ago.
This is where my story takes a little turn, a slight twist so too speak, that touched my heart and made me realize that what changes on the outside, doesn’t necessarily change on the inside.
As we all sat outside under the covered patio, my eyes went from one to another, taking in the outer changes of getting older; gray hair on most, and some with white. There were some with more wrinkles, and some without; some slowly walking and some a little sprier. Some are a bit forgetful, and some are sharp.
Suddenly, a little sadness came over me, and I asked myself, how did this happen? It seemed like just yesterday, our children were young, fishing for crayfish in the creek at Nazareth Park. Now, these same children have families of their own.
This loving family may be changing on the outside, but the love they hold in their heart for others has not changed one iota. My husband and I are still invited to family functions, and we graciously accept with thankful hearts. There is always laughter, teasing, and sharing on picnic days.
Nineteen years ago, one of my brother inlaws told me I would always be his sister. How blessed I was on that day. The blessing continues whenever I spend time with them, especially the times we share a meal together.
Time is precious! Enjoy your loved ones every day, and especially on this Fourth of July.