I hope you get lost in a wonderful book today.
I hope you get lost in a wonderful book today.
When I was a kid I always loved Memorial Day. Mostly because it meant we’d all pile into Dad’s red chevy and head to the park.
Once we got to the park, the fun started. There we would converge with a bevy of aunts, uncles, cousins, and family friends to start putting the feast together.
Mom always made the best potato salad, Aunt Aggie brought her jello salad, Dad and the men comandeered the barbecue and threw on the dogs and burgers. The smell was heavenly and the tables were laden with everything from deviled eggs to watermelons as big as me.
And there were plenty of other families doing the same. It almost seemed like a big old block party.
The park was just across the way from a small amusement park and my brother Alan, my cousin Tom and I would sneak to the edge of the property and watch the screaming people digging on the roller coaster. We’d lie in the grass and watch for hours, daydreaming about taking that big ride.
We were too little – but we sure could dream.
Eventually Mom would call us back and we ate until we had to lay flat on our backs in the grass because it was the only position that didn’t make our stomachs hurt.
The bees and flies buzzed overhead and we swatted and sweated in the humid air but was still the best day of the year.
Once the sun went down, we each got 6 sparklers that we could light and wave around. I always ended up stepping on one and burning my foot – couldn’t keep shoes on me. But I still loved it.
Then the fireworks, where we oo’d and ahh’d throughout the entire display.
Then back in the red Chevy and falling asleep in the backseat…
When I was older I learned the meaning of Memorial Day – to honor Americans who had died in the defence of our great nation.
I have to admit, it made the holiday a little less gleeful and yet more important.
Today, I still love the holiday because it harkens the memories of family outings, good food and innocent fun – but it also inspires pride in my country and the people who sacrificed everything so we could have so much.
I hope at some point during the day you’ll say a little prayer of thanks and blessing to those people who have made what we have possible. I know I will.
Have a great and safe Memorial Day.
I dreamed Saturday to hurry up and come. The first day of summer – the day I would see my Poppy again. He would drive his old, bouncy truck up the gravel road, and announce his arrival with a squeak of questionable brakes and unsettled dust.
I held fast to his pocket watch and put it to my ear and listened to the tick, tick, tick as each second passed by. Poppy gave it to me and said, “Marni, when you miss me, you hold this old watch to your heart and you’ll feel my heart beating too.” I did and often. That old watch was important, they gave it to him after he gave them thirty years of work and sweat. I didn’t know who they were but I knew the watch was dear. I knew he loved me the most because he gave it to me.
Saturday was so near and each tick brought it closer. I imagined us sitting at the end of the dock, trolling for catfish. We’d catch two, at least. Poppy’s special bait of white bread and Cheese Whiz was irresistible to catfish. Oh yes, at least two catfish for Mama’s frying pan. After we took pictures of our prizes, we’d nail them to the ancient hickory and skin them good. Then give them to Mama for a light dusting of cornmeal and a bath of hot lard.
We’d eat and laugh, and Poppy would steal my nose between bites of catfish and sips of coffee. Afterward, we would wander through the woods and scavenge for wild berries and violets. The tin bucket pinging out a tune with each handful dropped into its hungry mouth.
“If I go to sleep, Saturday will come. Poppy will come,” I told myself. And as the moon rose and shimmied through my windows, the angels wooed me to slumber. Cradled me in dreams of giggles and adventure.
Morning came so quietly I almost missed it. The house was still and I worried everyone had forgotten about me. I hurried into my dungarees and pink plaid shirt – then raked excited hands through tangled curls. Poppy didn’t care if my hair was a fright. He called it my mane and proclaimed, “You’re my little queen of the jungle, lion girl. That you are.”
“Poppy!” I sang out as I burst into the kitchen. Empty. No Mama, no Daddy – no smell of coffee and eggs and the hot rolls that Poppy loved. The old pocket watch that hung around my neck felt different – heavy – and my hand trembled as I put it to my ear. No, tick, tick, tick…
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