watermelon seeds

The 4th of July will always be my cousins and I spitting watermelon seeds in my grandmas backyard.

The smells and tastes and sounds of those days resonate inside of me.  There isn't a single year, or specific memory, there are many pieces of memories over many number of years that have created a collective memory so strong, I will carry it with me always.

It is carefully chosen, obnoxiously worn 4th of July outfits.
It is potato salad warmed in the Colorado sun.
It is the warm sun, and cool air conditioning, one after the other, in succession, on repeat.
It is my grandpa manning the grill.
And my uncle bringing the coke.
It is running fast, sweating hard, and cooling off with a twin popsicle on a stick.
It is spitting watermelon seeds off my grandma's patio into the yellowed grass.
It is a washing machine full of ice, filled with canned and bottled drinks.
It is my grandpa getting to the park armed with a lawn chair and a book, hours before anyone else, to reserve our space under the shelter.
It is iced tea from a giant thermos, in red and blue solo cups.
It is bug spray and sunscreen stepping in as perfume for the day.
It is  thirty voices talking at once.
Unless it was grandpa's voice, ears were fine tuned to his voice, listening intently.
It is sitting on the big mailboxes at the post office where grandpa worked.
It is exaggerated "oohs and aahhs" and my uncles mocking all the exaggerated "oohs and ahhs".
It is lawn chairs and picnic tables and everyone bringing their own paper plates and silverware.
It is wagons, and bicycles, and roller blades, and jump ropes, and volleyball nets, and basketball.  
It is the hot sun of the day, and the cool breeze of the night. 
It is family, and laughter, and so much love it was almost unfair, and feeling like the luckiest person in the world.  

And every year I will wake up and think about my cousins and all the miles between us.  I will think of all the days and all the years we spent together, our lives being shaped standing shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand.  And I will say a prayer for them, and wish their families well, in whatever adventure awaits them today.  And I will think of my grandpa, always of him.  Of the sacrifices he made for our freedom, of his patriotism, and love for this country.  And of his love for his family, and the way he lead us so well. So many of the good parts of me, came from him and his encouragement and his love and his voice.

The 4th of July, for me, will always be about sun, and food, and laughter, and family, and so much love.  And of course, spitting watermelon seeds in my grandma's backyard.

my grandpa. in vietnam. fighting for freedom. writing. loving.


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