The Fourth of July was always my favorite holiday as a child. As I think back on past Fourth of July holidays, I can almost feel the warm summer sun on my face, smell the charcoal grills and hear the high school bands marching down the street. I can see excited children sitting on the curb during the parade waiting to gather the candy that has been thrown to them from the fire truck that is passing by. Thinking back, I can also remember seeing the same excitement on the faces of the grown-ups that were driving brightly colored antique cars in the parade. With large smiles, waving hands and the honking of their horns, these individuals displayed the pride they had in the cars that they were driving.
My great-grandfather was one of those grown-ups driving one of his four antique cars. He had a black 1923 Model T Ford, a dark green 1930 Model A Ford, a yellow 1957 Chevy and a rebuilt bright red MG. Love, sweat and tears went into those four cars and it showed. My great-grandfather died when I was 16. Some of my greatest memories were of times spent with him on Fourth of July holidays as a little girl. My brother, sister and I would ride in my great-grandfather’s old cars in the Fourth of July parades in Knowles, Wisconsin. This was such a special time for me, riding in his brightly colored cars, living life in that moment.
Today, Fourth of July isn’t what it used to be. Different memories have been formed and new traditions have been created. Yet, these changing times do not take away from the feelings that I get when I hear an old car’s horn and see the bright antique cars slowly creeping by during a parade. In those moments, I am transported back to those feelings that I had as a little girl. I can feel the wind in my hair as I poked my head out of the backseat window, with my hand waving and the biggest smile on my face.
When it comes to the Fourth of July, many people spend the day or weekend prior camping, grilling out, going to a parade in their hometown or watching the fireworks at night. Regardless of the way in which you spend this holiday, the one common thread that usually runs through this holiday is family. It is no secret that holidays following the death of a loved one can be challenging. Although you may be with the rest of your family, your special loved one is no longer in the crowd of people with whom you are celebrating. While difficult, the holiday can still bring happy memories that can be recreated or shared with the individuals that are around you. Consider incorporating the following thoughts into this Fourth of July, or think about the special things you want to remember about your loved one and the holidays that you used to share together.
- Surround yourself with those you love – The ones that you love are those individuals that love you unconditionally. Allow them to be there for you during this difficult time. Be open to yourself and others, telling stories and saying your loved one’s name.
- Tell the truth about the emotions that you are feeling – Family members expect for the holidays to be difficult. If asked “how are you doing?” be honest and open about your feelings.
- Take care of yourself – No one knows you better than you know yourself. If you need to step away for a while in order to take time for yourself, be open to that and feel your feelings freely.
- Keep the special memories in the holiday - While your loved one may not be there physically, that does not take away from the special memories you used to share. Continue to incorporate those meaningful moments. As in my case when I see an antique car pass by, I smile and remember the times I shared with my great-grandfather.