The River's Badge

Friday, July 3, 2015

God Bless The USA


Call me old-fashioned. I'm old and I'm "fashioned"?

I still remember attending the Fourth of July parade with my dad, and he loved it. It was pretty much the highlight of his year. And it was actually pretty cool for me, too. Everybody stood up when the flag passed by, and I inevitably got a lump in my throat. But I'm sentimental like that. Just like my dad got sentimental when the old farm implements trudged down Main Street, I was a sucker for the flag.

Because you've gotta stand for something, right?

I was watching a news channel this morning that shall remain nameless, because, you know, politically correct bullshit. And I saw Lee Greenwood. His song took me back to 1985, when both he and I looked a whole lot better, but he's still out there doin' it, whereas I have gotten old and I just miss my dad.

I can't go home, and even if I did, it wouldn't be the same. Dad is gone, Mom is gone. Mom always stayed behind while the rest of us went to the parade, because she had to nurse the potato salad for when we all straggled back home.

My sister Lissa and I would park on the curb with our cameras and our sunglasses and laugh about nothing and everything. My boys would be tromping around the McDonald's parking lot, waiting for the candy-throwers to finally show up, and then they'd lurch out onto the street and battle the other little kids for a piece of taffy to stuff inside their plastic grocery bags.

My big brother Rick would stand alongside my dad and offer prescient comments, while his wife Kathy was still inside McDonald's, chatting up the lunch ladies. My little brother Jay was sort of like ether; here one moment, gone the next.

Lissa and I snapped pictures of the Mandan Braves marching band with their high-white headdresses and black-and-white MANDAN banner. We hoo-rahed the stupid US Healthcare flatbed (me) and the Golden Dragon Restaurant float (her). I applauded the truck that towed the local country band, because, you know, country. We snapped pictures of the same stuff year after year, but we didn't care.

 The Fourth of July is when I miss my dad the most. We shared the same corny patriotic sentiments. We were both sentimental that way.

So, here you go, Dad.

And I still tear up. I can't help it.



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