Jan looked out the kitchen window. The room was silent, set aside the perk of her coffee being made. Without opening her back door, she could tell by the slow trickle of movement there was a gentle breeze. Warm, she suspected; after all this was two days before the holiday, July 4th.
A small-curved smile spread over her face as bouncing memories came rushing back to the holidays when she was a young girl. Daddy would work a few hours over-time so we could have our very own picture show in our backyard.
We three kids would hurry and gobble our dinner and mama would say as she always said,” slow down children, there ain’t no fire to go to”. Jan smiled bigger as she heard her mama’s voice in her head.
We each took turns saying the magic words, may I be excused? With a nod from papa’s head, we would pick up our plates and glasses and place them in the sink carefully, so as they wouldn’t break; that would upset mama dearly, and it could ruin our night of fun.
We then quickly walked to our bedrooms. One by one we took turns in the bathroom, brushing our teeth, putting our PJ’s on and then brushing our hair. Outside the door, soft knocks would be heard. Voices followed,” are you about finished in there”?
When we were all done and our sheets were pulled back we would walk in line back to the kitchen and announce to both mama and papa we were ready for bed. Papa would look up from his evening paper, and give us each the one, all over look.
With his approval we went out back and sat on the old, squeaky porch swing. We would move our legs back and forth making that old swing go as fast as we could without getting caught by our parents.
Soon mama would come out of the door, letting the screen door slam. I always thought that was a way of hers to let us know if we were doing anything wrong, we better straighten up because papa would be coming close behind.
We forced the swing to stop and we each sat with our hands in our laps and waited. We heard the latch and our breathing began to race as we knew it was now time for the fun to begin.
Papa came through the door holding a brown paper bag. It reminded me much of the bags we used to carry our lunches in; except this was bigger. Papa would look at mama and the two of them would smile pretty at each other.
I always thought my parents were the best ever. They never fought and from what I heard other people say; my parents were still in that beginning stage of being in love. I didn’t know what love was; but when I found out, I hoped it was as grand as mama and papa’s.
Papa would look at us three and say,” alright kids, are you ready? get your behinds off that swing and get out in the yard. Way out there now, we don’t want any accidents”. We would jump off and clap our hands racing off the porch.
Papa would follow, opening the brown bag and handing us each a small box. It was a red, white and blue box. It had many different colors all over it. We would hold it for a quick second and then quickly tear off the little top.
Out would come the prettiest, most silver in color, long sparklers. Mama came over to where we were then and she asked for each of our empty boxes. Papa would pull out his lighter from his pocket, and one by one he would light a sparkler for each of us. He repeated this until all the sparklers were burnt.
We would twirl and pretend we had magic in our hands. We would write our names in the sky. I imagine the neighbors could hear our giggles next door, but if they did, no one complained.
When we had nothing left to light, papa would tell us to get back upon the porch and reminded us to not step foot back on to the grass. Mama had went back inside and brought out a much bigger bag. She handed it to papa and he gently pulled out the grand finales.
Big sparklers that stuck straight up in the ground. Fireworks that looked like the tents Indians lived in. I remember there was a firework that looked like a little wagon. When papa lit the driver, the wagon would move on its own.
We kids would clap each time new colors bounced in the sky. Excitement over whelmed us and we wanted to see more and more. When it was all done and we knew we could go back in the grass, we would run to papa and grab him around the waist, telling him how much we loved him and how much we loved the picture show.
I look out my window and I then look down at the walker holding me up. Where had the time gone? When did the years get faster and faster. I saw a Robin sitting on a leafy branch. Another Robin came and sat beside him.
It reminded me of my man, Sam. Sam and I had been married almost 54 years. We would still be together if a heart attack had not come and taken him away from me. It wasn’t much after that my own health started to fail me.
The kids were all grown and had moved in all directions. Life sure wasn’t the same anymore. It sure had quieted down. It sort of lost its meaning. Is this what getting old is all about?
The noise of the coffee perking had quieted. I walked as good as I could and poured me a nice, big cup. Sitting it down, I turned once again and looked out the window. The breeze was stirring. The leaves were green with life. The Robins were gone. A gentle tear streamed down my cheek. I picked up my coffee and went to the table and sat down.