The month of July triggers many memories. When I was younger, the month kicked off with the Fourth of July holiday festivities of picnics and fireworks, all of which were fascinating to me, my siblings, cousins, and friends. July 4 was also my grandfather’s birthday, an occasion that we were fortunate to celebrate with him through his 95th.
During my college years, I worked at the beach during the summer break. The July 4th week usually signified the beginning of the busy season at the beach, but it also meant that summer was halfway over for those of us returning to school before Labor Day.
In my home state of Maryland, July was also the month when local produce like tomatoes, corn, peas, string beans, cabbage, lettuce, cucumbers, zucchini, and asparagus became available in the grocery stores and at roadside produce stands. For many years, our family had a large garden, and all of us at home shared in the duties of planting, weeding, fertilizing, watering, and harvesting. By the date of my father’s birthday, July 25th, all of our birthday dinner vegetables were freshly harvested from the family garden.
When my children were born in July, that gave us three birthdays to celebrate. Those births also added summer sports competitions from an early age until the present. We probably celebrated half of their birthdays somewhere on the road, but we usually had an opening in the schedule to celebrate my dad’s birthday at my parents’ house or one of my sibling’s homes.
The Fourth of July celebrations were different this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Many communities did not want to bring large crowds together for fireworks or parades. There were scheduled events, but in many cases, they were on a vastly different scale than before.
All of us are coming together to celebrate my children’s birthdays this month. A few days after that, I’m sure we’ll find a way to recognize my dad on what would have been his 90th birthday.
We’ll have our favorite memories and stories, and I’ll be sure to propose a toast to the man who set an example for so many during his 89.9 years here. Thanks for the lessons, the support, and the memories, Dad!