Cancer Chronicles

Every holiday has its own memories of a loved one who has passed away, and Fourth of July is no different. Every holiday with Janet was special.
I don’t even remember Fourth of July before Janet came into my life. My earliest recollections were of my brothers lighting firecrackers and throwing them at me. They thought it was funny when I screamed and jumped away. Then after my mother died of pancreatic cancer when I was fourteen we never celebrated any holiday again.
My favorite memories with Janet when we were young were watching firework displays. On July fourth 1976 we lived in Killeen, Texas, and drove out to Fort Hood to watch its fireworks from the highway. What we didn’t realize was that they were doing a full-out pageant of American history inside the stadium before the light show began. If we listened carefully we could tell from the music and sound effects where they were. I loved Janet’s commentary:
“You mean they’re still on the Revolution? Why don’t they go ahead and defeat Cornwallis and get it over with?”
“I hear Battle Hymn of the Republic and Dixie so they’re up to the Civil War. Oh good grief, another hundred years to go!”
“Great! An Elvis salute! We’re almost to the fireworks!”
Our son, who was only two years old, was asleep in the backseat. We woke him up with the display began.
“Ooh, pretty!” he said.
Years later we moved to another town and our house was just down the street from the mall where they set off fireworks every July Fourth. We could watch them from our lawn chairs in the front yard. Some years we ate homemade ice cream, others we had watermelon.
The last few years we settled into the typical old folk’s way to celebrate the Fourth. We sat in front of the television and watched the Capital Fourth celebration on PBS and then on some network station the Macy’s fireworks over the Hudson.
This year I will be alone, my second July Fourth since Janet died of cancer. The State of Florida decided my son should celebrate Independence Day with an extra shift of guard duty at the local prison. Come to think of it I won’t really be alone. I’ll have my memories of Janet and her commentary on fireworks and the music.
And that makes me feel free.

One thought on “Cancer Chronicles

  1. Nancy Mulcahey

    We also in our “old age” would watch the capital 4th. My third year alone without my Skip. We are a very patriotic family with Skip a vet and both our sons . One in his 24th yr active. I noticed this morning as I watched the clouds on a beautiful Vermont day I don’t have a flag out. My pole needs repair and finding some one is hard. Trying not to feel sorry for myself and living on because he can’t. So I’m going over to sit by my friends pool for the afternoon. Will try to be my joking self but inside sad. Happy Fourth of July!


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