As a kid I LOVED July 4th. Grandma’s. Hotdogs, hamburgers, homemade icecream, firecrackers and the big show at night. What more could a girl ask for?The firecrackers disappeared the year I lit one and it exploded in my face. I couldn’t see for a couple minutes and I thought I was blind for life, but I was afraid to get my mom because she’d told us NOT to play with firecrackers…they were dangerous.
The only reason I’d even been playing with the silly things anyway was because Grandma had cute neighbors and my cousins were fearless. No way could I be shown up by them. After the explosion in my face, I decided boys weren’t worth the risk.
The best 4th nights were spent at Aunt Helen’s. Aunt Helen lived in Tecumseh, OK. She had a huge yard, cows and Uncle Dule…who had cold sodas in glass bottles in a machine in his shop. Back then, cold sodas were a huge treat, not an every day part of life.
Aunt Helen was grandma’s best friend and had been for 65 years and it was fun to watch them together.
Years before Aunt Helen had taken care of Grandpa’s triplets when his first wife died. Aunt Helen took care of Papa (her dad) for the last several years before he died. When Grandma and Grandpa both got sick a couple years ago, Aunt Helen was the one to step in and take care of them.
When we were little spending all kinds of time at Grandma’s, Aunt Helen would make us eat tablespoons of local honey if we had colds. I don’t know if it worked or not, but it sure tasted good.
Two years ago DD and I spent a week at Grandma’s and Aunt Helen was the one there cooking and cleaning and keeping spirits up. Even though we were there to take care of things, she was there with grandma and grandpa. Hanging out. Telling stories. Laughing. When Grandma and Aunt Helen were together they both dropped years in seconds. If I watched them hard enough, I could imagine them young and beautiful and laughing this very same way.
Aunt Helen made me crazy sometimes, especially at family reunion when I was a teenager and she’d yell at us to turn down our music then say rock and roll would damn our souls and that hell was going to be hot and we’d have our music to thank for us ending up there! But once I was older, her bark didn’t seem quite so bad. It’s hard to be upset with someone so dedicated to helping others. The last few years her bark was gone completely.
Aunt Helen died this year, and I miss her. When the fireworks go off tonight, I’ll be thinking of her.
Aunt Helen with the cup, Grandma with the cane. 65 years as best friends. WOW.