Fourth of July Blues

(for Dad)

Who are you on the Fourth of July? Pyromaniac? Misty-eyed, singing along with a military choir? Are you throwing candy from a firetruck in a parade? Clapping for ah-ooo-gah and politicians you’ve never heard of and senior citizens who fought in wars before you were born and kids on bikes with red white and blue streamers in their spokes? Are you in a sundress, catching fireflies on a golf course, a Dixieland jazz band in the distance? Drinking your first beer on a beach with a boy a few yards away from a band of laughing suntanned grownups eating fried chicken? Are you lying on your back on an old football blanket gazing up at the firework finale, wishing it wasn’t about to be all over?

Where are you now? Are you getting ready to make the myth come true in fireworks and potato salad, hoisting that flag, setting that picnic table, tapping that keg, digging up some John Phillip Sousa?

Or are you like me: a child inside a grown-up, missing her father like crazy. Missing his sunburned forehead and this dry thick hand holding yours extra hard when the fireworks are like chandeliers in the humid midwestern sky. Maybe his breath smells a little like gin. Maybe he whispers into your ear, “I’m a sucker for the Fourth of July.” Maybe you don’t want to be a grown up. Maybe you just want to be a kid, at home, in the midwest. Maybe you cry on the 4th of July. Dread it, even. Maybe no parade is ever the same without your dad. Maybe sometimes we write to cry because we need to cry. Maybe we can cry through a parade and a firework display and no one will notice for our sunglasses and then the dark night. Maybe holidays without the ones we shared them with as kids don’t have to be happy. And we can call it good. Maybe the poppies popping in the garden are all the fireworks we need.


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14 Responses to Fourth of July Blues

  1. Lee Malcolm

    Laura — Feel that. XOXOXOXO

    • lauramunson

      Hey, Lee. How are you? Sending so much love to you from MT. Thanks for coming to my reading. Know that was a haul. ox

  2. Alison V. Scherer

    Laura, this is so beautifully evocative.
    Thinking of you today and always.

  3. kim (munsey)klock

    Yes, I can relate. Daddy Bennett died on the 6th, 2002, and he was a sucker for the fourth , too. God bless our daddies.

  4. Yes, sometimes we “write to cry.” Blessings to you.

  5. as always I have drawn great strength from your book and your blog. i missed my papa this year who told me that the fireworks were just for him for HIS birthday! i don’t know that I ever stopped believing that until long after he died (when I was 20). and this year I found myself creating a 4th of july of memories for my 3 boys as their dad/my husband is currently absent… not unlike your husband. and yet i continue to find daily moments of unlikely happiness.

    • lauramunson

      Doing a live chat right now on the post “The Art of Stopping” if you feel like sharing. Thanks for this comment. Keep creating your life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! yrs. Laura

  6. Jane

    Laura – Loved your book will see you in your suburb of Chicago at a reading in September!!! The 4th of July parade was again hilarious – the lawn mower guys being the hit as always. Keep writing – you absolutely inspire me to keep reaching for my own writing dreams. Don’t need to use my name in your blog, how about “Jane.”

    • lauramunson

      Oh I’m so glad the Lawn mower guys were a hit as usual! I LOVE that parade. I truly do. See you in Sept! It’s in Winnetka, at the Book Stall. yrs. Laura

  7. Grace

    Dear Laura, pardon my rusty language. I am new to English and feel almost autistic. I want to express so much with so little ability. I was mesmerized by your self imposed study and kept my fingers crossed while reading your book. At one point I could not hold longer and I absolutely HAD to peak at the ending, just to check if you were doing all right and that your effort and pain of living though the experience and my effort and pain of reading it did not end up in vain. It did not.
    I came across the similar philosophy of not reacting, focusing on yourself and gently loving form the distance at Al Anon community, which I joined briefly( too briefly) courtesy of my brother. I am not surprised at all that one of your fiends was an Al Anon member- who perhaps offered you an indirect support on the path you have chosen.
    Please, let us know if you are publishing other books. Do not, please, think that the entire fourteen novels that you have written were sort of wasted. They were not. You have developed such an easy, effortless and an elegant style. Your book almost reads itself. I compare your literary style to that of Steven King, who deliberately avoids long, complex word and is able to set the hair popping mood using just about two hundred words.
    Laura, it is clearly visible to the reader that “ A Season of Unlikely Happiness” is not your literary debut.
    I was thinking about your family that 4 th of July, so strange. I am a happily married woman who instantly recognized and applied in the past some of your findings.
    P. S. Good marriages get BETTER with age. Trust me on that.
    Best wishes to your family.

    • lauramunson

      THANK YOU! There is so much to your WELL WRITTEN note that touched me (I limp along in Italian and this was great English– be proud of yourself! It’s so hard to be subtle or get to the heart in a different language and you did both of those things!) I love what you say about good marriages getting BETTER! What hope you offer for those of us who are married. My very best! yrs. Laura

  8. Brenda Rice

    Yes I too will miss someone very special on this day. July 4th will always be remembered as the day I lost my sister- she waited for this day to let go of her battle with cancer for to her this day was always about family. She knows that we will always be together on this day watching the same old fashion 4th of July parade down Main Street, eating lots of donuts beforehand, finding all the red,white and blue we can to wear to the parade, and finally having fun laughing and splashing with family in the freezing ocean afterwards. Yes I too miss someone very special on this day.

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