Certain holidays can create a tidal wave of memories that can rush back to a person like a hurricane.
Each year, the Fourth of July brings me back to my childhood in Belfair, which is 72 miles west of Issaquah in Mason County. The Fourth of July was the pinnacle of the summer in the 1990s for the kids in my neighborhood. Each year, a dozen of us would make a beeline for Beards Cove Park, a three-minute stroll from my parents’ house, to play a couple hours of basketball before the evening festivities took place at our respective homes.
By the time I arrived back home, I would be greeted with the sight of my dad’s best friend Oscar’s red truck parked in the driveway. Oscar, who lived in central Tacoma for the majority of his life, was ecstatic to make the 38-mile drive to Belfair on an annual basis for our family’s favorite holiday. I couldn’t wait to discover what kind of food and beverages Oscar would bring. Typically, he brought hamburger patties, shrimp, hot dogs, chips and root beer. I’ll never forget sitting at the kitchen table, listening to Oscar and my dad tell stories as they cooked up a sizable feast.
As the daylight turned into darkness, our old creaky deck that was perched above our front yard became the hub of our Beards Cove neighborhood. It was just how my dad wanted it. The neighbors not only paid visits to our deck, they brought a plethora of fireworks as well.
It was time to put on a show.
The most memorable Fourth of July celebration of my childhood came in the summer of 1994. Because of all of the excitement of having a multitude of people at our house, I consumed 10 cans of Coca-Cola without anyone seeming to notice. The high amount of caffeine had an effect on my 12-year-old body. Around midnight, as I tried to light off the remaining bottle rockets, I had a tough time lighting the fuse. My hands and fingers couldn’t stop shaking, and my dad asked me why.
I just looked at him and grinned before admitting I had drank 10 sodas throughout the evening. Much to my delight, he wasn’t even angry with me. He replied, “It’s the Fourth of July, so it’s OK, son.” My dad was a disciplinarian. On any other occasion, his response would had been the opposite and I would had been in trouble.
My father passed away in July of 2004. This will be my 13th Fourth of July without him. Besides his birthday and Father’s Day, there isn’t another day that I think about him more than Independence Day. My memories of my favorite holiday will never leave me as long as I’m alive.