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  • Every Fourth, Dad would take the family to the big fireworks show at one of the local carnivals. It was always at midnight, so we'd find a good spot to park and I'd nap in the backseat until the show began.

    Mom would sleep, too, and she'd tell my dad to wake her up, because she didn't want to miss the extravaganza. But no matter how many times we all tried to wake her once the fireworks started, she'd see one or two through bleary eyes, and then fall asleep again until we gave up.

    When they were over, she'd wake up when Dad started the car to head home, and every time, she'd say, "You mean I missed the fireworks? I told you to wake me up!" That was our cue to say, "But, Mom, we TRIED!"

    She loved fireworks, though ... and slept through many shows.

    After Dad died, after my brother died, it was just the two of us, Mom and me. By then, the town across the river had fireworks, so we didn't need to go far. We'd drive out to the woods (we lived at the top of a 500-foot cliff beside the river), find a good place to tuck the car, and leave the air conditioning on. Our neighbors would join us -- it was the best fireworks watching spot around -- and we'd talk about what had been going on with this family and that one.

    Fireflies crowded the cornfield, and the fireworks exploded across the entire sky. We'd oooh and aaaah as though they were the first ones we'd ever seen, and we'd discuss the merits of each one. (I liked the golden ones that looked like chrysanthemums; she liked the little gold "fish" that spun and shrieked.)

    After she died, I avoided the fireworks for a long, long time. Last night, I grabbed my camera and went outside.

    It doesn't hurt as much if I see them through a lens ...
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