Monday, July 04, 2005

An Independence Day Blog

I just got back from the airport; my daughter should now be on her flight to Washington where she will combine some business with pleasure. She left a day earlier than she needed to enjoy the festivities, catch some fireworks displays and a concert. The only problem was that she’d left her wallet, the one with her driver’s license, money and credit cards wedged in between the front seat and the door of her car. I got a call to alert me of the fact and to please retrieve the wallet and haul myself over to the airport while there was yet sufficient time. I managed to stay within the speed limits as she had a full hour before flight departure; all the same I knew that she would be anxious to have things set right as quickly as possible.

I called my folks to pass the drive time and let them know everyone was doing well. Mom had to tell me all about the home repairs that she and dad were accomplishing. In their kitchen they have some glass fronted cabinets where the doors sometimes drift open on their own, not having any fastening devices. I had suggested a trip to the local hardware store for some of those magnet catches that would be easy to install. Mom reminded me that the wood was very hard, almost like iron and so I had suggested she buy some “Gorilla Glue”, a product that would eliminate the need for screws and at the same time bond the magnets steadfastly in place. I explained that the product was so good that once in place it would take a jack hammer to remove and so it would most certainly be able to keep her kitchen cabinet doors in place.

Mom had actually listened to my advice; well, most of it. She had failed to properly locate the magnet device and so now she has two magnet devices on her cabinet door; one that serves no purpose because it was put in the wrong location and yet a second that functions as it should. Mom reassured me that I was correct, it would take a jack hammer to remove the one she placed in the wrong place and so it will remain there forever.

Dad was sleeping on the sofa after also working on the kitchen cabinets. Mom told me that he’d used the drill; something that immediately got my attention. Dad has a clause in his contract that specifically prohibits him from using any power tools. He is allowed a hammer, a pair of pliers, a Phillips head screw driver and a flat head screw driver; all other tools are also prohibited. Dad wanted to follow the instructions that had come with the magnet door devices and was determined to use the screws that came in the package, something to do with “waste not want not” from back in the Great Depression. Mom now has a cabinet door that will “almost close”, short of actually closing by an eighth of an inch uniformly because of “somebody” not bothering to measure the location of said drilled screw holes. It’s been like this my entire life and so I just sit back and giggle when mom tells me, “Your father has been in the tool box”.

We’re having some family and friends over later this afternoon to help celebrate the 4th. Lucy loves to cook and so we have lots of chicken breasts, coleslaw, potato salad and baked beans, enough and then some. It’s been so dry for so long I will avoid the temptation to purchase any fireworks and instead will stand guard with the garden hose waiting for stray bottle rockets to land in my yard.

We had a similar backyard 4th of July gathering when I was much younger and living at home. My mom wanted to wear one of those pioneer dresses, those calico prints that go all the way to the floor to remind us of those who had gone before us, those who had gone through many hardships in order for us to have the wonderful freedoms and liberties that we enjoy. I couldn’t tell you the exact menu; suffice to say it would have also had coleslaw, potato salad and baked beans with whatever other fixings she had prepared.

We had two dogs at the time and had to keep them separated because they would get jealous when one or the other thought the other was getting more attention. Gritz was a large mix breed; with shades of red setter, shepherd, Labrador or Newfie in no particular order. Walter was a hound, also of mix breed, tending to favor beagle and basset. Mom was opening the patio sliding glass door to take a plate of food out to the picnic table when the two dogs decided to become ugly. They met underneath that long pioneer dress with snarls and the sound of teeth snapping.

This was not an uncommon occurrence in our house and so mom had stationed Little League baseball bats in every corner of the house; one at the front door, one at the back and one in the kitchen so that there would always be an “equalizer” handy. Mom held the plate in one hand while wielding the bat in the other. “Bopping” dogs blindly underneath the material of her dress without regard for any precise target she broke up the fight. She claimed that one of them had accidentally gotten her on the leg, raising the hem to examine the injury. She claimed it was a bite mark; but upon closer examination it looked like an imprint to me, “Louisville Slugger”. To this day mom claims the dog bit her; I say she bopped herself and won’t admit it.

Dad should be waking up from his nap anytime now; having “fixed” the cabinet door takes a lot out of a guy. Mom will have the potato salad, the coleslaw and baked beans to go along with some hot dogs. They won’t have to worry about bopping any dogs today; they having gone the way of all the earth. I can only imagine the looks that will be exchanged each time one of the cabinet doors is opened and closed as they go about the daily ritual of setting the table. The one cabinet that now has dual fasteners and the one with the screws off set by an eight of an inch for time and all eternity.

These are the kind of stories that my family takes into our celebration of Independence Day, the decision to form a separate and unique country, accepting the consequences for such a bold initiative unto the risk of their very lives. I take a moment to ponder the significance of those courageous individuals this day and am so very grateful for the heritage that I am able to enjoy.

Bonnie should be about half way to Washington D.C. by now, her wallet and picture identification safely in hand. I missed the pancake breakfast at the church while driving to the airport, the flag raising ceremony, a short patriotic program and the children’s bicycle parade complete with streamers hanging from the handle bars. They would be singing, “America the Beautiful”, something I am no longer able to sing; relying on my brothers and sisters to fill in for me. The tears choke my ability to voice those beautiful thoughts as the words drown my emotions in solemn reflection. ( linked via title bar )

The things I celebrate do not come in a box of fireworks, a parade or in a well planed dinner with friends and family. I hold in my thoughts the celebration of individual awareness, such a burning need to establish for themselves, ourselves, a place in which these inalienable rights; Life Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness as granted to us from our Creator, even God Himself, that these are sufficient cause for celebration, that these are worth fighting for and if need be, to take life or relinquish our own lives. May God protect us from ourselves, provide us with the necessary wisdom and courage to continue to provide these precious intangibles for the next generation, is my hope and my prayer. In the sacred name of our Savior, even Jesus Christ. Amen.

I just read Rossputin's blog and he has some similar thoughts.

Add to that Guy at Snug Harbor's blog article.

Add to your list a nice blog by Stephen Macklin at Hold the Mayo, with links to some important speeches by Douglas and Lincoln.

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