Monday, July 2, 2012


During the holiday fireworks over the weekend he remembered his grandfather who lost his sight in the early days of World War II. Every Fourth of July his grandparents would take him and his siblings and cousin to watch the fireworks show near the lake at the edge of their sleepy retirement village in the Ozarks. His eldest sister would sit on her grandfather's lap or kneel at his feet in order to describe the colors and patterns that preceded every boom and thunder. He suspects that those descriptions were merely the form of their conversation and not its true content. He always wondered just how well his grandfather could see, but he never felt comfortable asking such a direct question. He knows that there were a few situations when his grandfather's blindness was called upon to restore proper decorum. He knows that even if he were only partially blind, his grandfather maintained an activity level not seen in any of his children and few of his grandchildren: building furniture out of limbs cut from the forest behind their home, cataloging hundreds of LPs so that he knew exactly where in his finished-out basement den the Jerry Lee Lewis or the Tennessee Ernie Ford collections were, playing his steel guitar upon request. Music was the one thing he had in common with his grandfather, but it remained something rarely shared between the two. Music and a certain patriotism: his cultivated by a childhood mania for the Bicentennial  and his grandfather's from service and sacrifice--all remembered over the weekend during a few minutes of fireworks celebrating America.

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