Nostalgia sets in today remembering Fourth of July Past.
Yes, we knew the reason for the 4th of July in our family — 1776 – our country’s valiant past,
the wars and brave soldiers fighting to preserve the freedoms of United States.
Though storms of doubt, ridicule and eroding values buffet our freedoms, my tears still well up to pledge anew to our country – ‘indivisible, under God..’. When people elect to come to these shores illegally, I know our country has worth beyond the dollars that can be gained in working here.
Freedom to worship, freedom to live, freedom of choices, freedom. That is the key. Freedom.
Yet a corner of my mind entertains memories of the past – homemade ice cream, watermelon, fried chicken, fresh vegetable salad from the garden and the inevitable child-made birthday cake. Not for our country, but for our fire-cracker of a Momma.
We loved our Momma, we named our cow for her — Daisy — because of the soft brown eyes. Hers were a soft sky-blue. She seemed underwhelming at our decision, but went with it.
We loved the heavy snow one year that led to reading the Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. Momma read until her throat was sore. And we clamored for more. We loved Phronsie Pepper asking over and over, “‘Tan it sing?”
We loved the midnight snacks at 9 pm in the backyard, watching the stars and visiting and praying. We loved the family ‘pow-wow’s when we sat cross-legged in the green Bermuda grass in the south yard, fought off chiggers, and discussed the amounts of the allowances, the family finances, the plans for the backyard, season tickets to the local swimming pool and many other items that made our family tick.
We loved sitting on the short front row bench while our Mom played the piano for the choir. Dad and Mom, veteran school teachers at one time, had the look that could keep us rooted to the bench without moving.
We loved it when Dad had to work during the night and Mom would gather us into the black Ford, vintage 1929, to explore and find a place for an impromptu picnic. The impromptu entailed packing food that was available — usually fresh baked bread, butter and jelly sandwiches — and finding the inevitable perfect tree that spread its branches to enfold us for eating the picnic.
We loved hearing Mom wake us and put us to sleep playing the piano. Sometimes at night we heard the music, but there was no light. Being the romantic, she often played in the dark.
Sometimes Mom didn’t know how to celebrate her birthday properly. One 4th of July dawned. My brothers were working on farms in Kansas, so I did chores. When I enquired how we would celebrate, Mom said, “I am going to paint my Maytag wringer washing machine.”
“Mom,” I wailed, “That is no way to celebrate — I guess I will have to do it myself!”
I flounced out of the house carrying my swimsuit and a towel and walked seven miles to Roman Nose Park, the closest swimming pool in Watonga. The last two miles did seem long, but I was determined to enjoy Mom’s day. I didn’t realize that she enjoyed making her old Maytag washing machine shine like new. I didn’t realize that later on she would work on her birthday to create a birthday picnic. Dad and Mom drove to the park and sat on one side and proceeded to embarrass me mightily. The blonde Adonis-like Lifeguard asked, “Are those your parents sitting over there?”
I looked, and there they were, holding hands like teenagers. Sigh, “Yes,” I replied, and swam away.
So many memories — and I always thought the nation celebrated Momma’s birthday so well.
She died in 1998. Every year the Fourth of July holds nostalgia and sweet family memories.
Our children celebrate in their ways the 4th of July and remember Grandma Daisy and peppermint ice cream and sparklers and lots of love from a lady who celebrated 91 birthdays with her country!
In 1962, Momma received this birthday card from her Mom, Anna Suderman:
My dear daughter, 55 years ago we celebrated, it was a hot day, the telephone was off, because it was a holiday. But you came early that morning, arriving at 8 a.m. Daddy stayed at home that day, did not go out to work. That evening when the telephone came on he called those that should know about it. John Litke worked for us that harvest and the wheat was finished the afternoon of the 3rd. John was the one to go get Mrs. Eitzen, Papa got Grandma Suderman and we had 2 little girls. I’ve always been glad for you both. (Would have been so nice to have the two boys) But God’s will was different. He’s made it alright. Thanks for the visit, and you know I did not think of your birthday when you were here. Nice warm weather today. Have a good time and keep well. Love from Momma