I was expecting to see a spectacular display of fireworks last night as the family gathered at Pepe and Meme’s house for their annual Fourth of July party. The view of town is amazing, and blue skies were promising to hold back the torrential rains long enough for our celebration. I took my vegetable trays and headed up the mountain. Traffic was terrible because the streets of our small town are simply not equipped to handle the volume of people who flood the downtown area to celebrate the Fourth of July.
I opted to take the back roads and made the two-mile trek in twenty minutes. I loved the party, but I was the only person there who had to come off the mountain after the firework display. I imagined it would take over an hour to get back to my apartment, so I decided it was best to head home early because I knew I would be able to see fireworks from my new apartment.
The drive home was much easier than the drive up the mountain, so I got home in plenty of time to catch the show. I looked over at the mountain from which I had just come and thanked God for my son and his sweet family. I wondered if I shouldn’t have stayed and not worried about the traffic. I noticed the parking lot beside my apartment was full of folks sitting on their cars, so the view promised to be a good one. The revelers were setting off their own little fireworks, and the kids were screaming with delight at each pop. When the big show started, I had to laugh. The fireworks appeared to be right in my front yard. I had the best seat in town and decided perhaps I should have hosted the party!
Today marks the sixth anniversary of mama’s death. I always think of her during the week of the Fourth because she gained independence from her pain on the fifth of July. I felt her presence in a powerful way last night. I saw her eyes as Mylah looked at Tyler when he threatened to take a bite of her apple pie. I saw her smile on Lilly’s face when she sat with Gina and ate her pie and ice cream. I felt her love when I looked at my son and thought of how very much I love him. I also knew mama was getting a kick out of the special show taking place right in front of me. I had some difficult lessons last week, and she knew I was experiencing a new kind of freedom myself, one that wasn’t easy on my heart. She and God knew the Fourth of July craziness was just the distraction I needed.
I’ve been in my new place for four months now, and I absolutely love it. I took this photo from Pepe’s porch and love it because it beautifully captures Bryson City. The town captured my heart decades ago when I took a job at Alarka Elementary in 1976. The 120 students ranging in age from five to thirteen won my heart and made me feel right at home. I had so many wonderful students over the years, and they still make me feel at home. They have children and grandchildren of their own now and seeing my precious students, grand students, and great-grand students everywhere I go reminds me that I am completely surrounded by love. That’s a very sweet feeling!