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In 1991 my city decided to expand the 4th of July celebration to include not only the parade and fireworks but also a street dance downtown with a local band and a street fair of small booths manned by local vendors strewn along both sides of the original brick boulevard that ran the couple of miles from our city hall to the university. I always loved the celebration of our freedom and republic. I enjoyed the merriment of the parade and after my kids were grown I still made a few of them all by myself. I liked the picnics, visiting with my friends under shade trees in the park, and outdoor concerts all culminating with fireworks that brought The Star Spangled Banner lilting through my mind. “And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air.” It was the one time I could forget my troubles and just be proud I was an American!
The expanded celebration was something I didn’t want to miss, but I didn’t want to go alone. I arrived at Flo’s, who my best friend for twenty-five years, after the parade had started. Flo didn’t like parades so I knew there was no need to beg her to go, but she did like local fairs and I promised to bring her home when she was ready and buy her all the food and drink she wanted if she would go with me. She agreed but her husband refused even though he wished us well.
It was a bright sunny day which usually isn’t that hot in Lubbock since the wind seems to always be blowing. However, along Broadway shade trees are few and far between and that day not a leaf seemed to stir. Flo and I couldn’t decide if we should stroll slowly hoping to catch a breeze or step briskly in order to get our ordeal over with quicker. We hadn’t gone a block when we both felt we were refugees baking in a distant desert.
There were myriad kiosks selling every kind of fair food. Usually, I started munching at the first booth and finished just in time to purchase the offering at the next one. However, this day Flo and I both agreed it was too hot for food! It was also too hot for cold drinks, since we didn’t see a potty anywhere. There was some really pretty jewelry on display and many booths with information about a new appliance or apparatus. We dared not dawdle though because the sun seemed to penetrate to our bones if we did.
We hadn’t gone a block when Flo said, “I don’t know what I was thinking. I must be crazy to have come with you!”
“I know, Flo” I answered, “have you ever been this hot in your life?” At that, we both began to laugh. I was laughing because neither of us liked sweating and sweat was dripping off of Flo’s nose. I was never sure what Flo was laughing at. But once we started we kept it up. I thought the heat was a lot easier to take with a good dose of laughter.
We walked four or five blocks before we felt we wouldn’t be considered total wimps if we turned around and headed back down the other side of the street. I, for one, had decided there couldn’t be anything worth my walking to see it in the blocks up ahead which Flo thought was hilarious. Maybe because I had spent most of my life shopping for fun, need, or just to pass the time!
We had gone a couple of blocks toward the car when I spied a Cold Lemonade stand and begged Flo to stop. “I cannot go another inch without something to drink,” I insisted. “Surely we can make it to the car without an accident.” With out drinks in hand I sat on the curb while Flo stood a few feet away under a branch of a tree. We didn’t realize we were at the shuttle stop until one designed to look like an old-fashioned trolley pulled to a stop.
“Oh, Flo, let’s ride!”
“I wanted to go back by the jewelry booth in the next block,” she responded. “I’d like those earrings.”
“Oh, Okay,” I answered. “But we’ll have to make it snappy ‘cause I think I’m having a heat stroke!” When we started for the jewelry we were laughing again. Once we were back in the car with the air conditioner on high Flo said, “Marianne, don’t ask me to do this again with you. I can tell you right now the answer is ‘no’.” At that we both laughed hilariously.
Actually, we never did go again. During that year Flo was diagnosed with emphysema. But since then every time I think of July 4th I remember Flo and the miserable day we laughed our way around the fair. It was a perfect picture of our relationship and of the way we always encouraged each other not to give up. That day we both felt the revolutionaries and the pioneers had nothing on us we had persevered through the most miserable ordeal and emerged victorious as well.
1. I love to talk to my girls because they’re all so humorous they make me laugh.
2. For the last 8 years I don’t walk very well, so I couldn’t get along without Wal-Mart and Drive-Thru.
3. The sense of responsibility that tempered my joy of my children has lessened with each succeeding generation. My great-grandchildren are pure joy!
4. I am finally actually slow to anger and quick to forgive!
5. It seems clearer everyday that ‘enjoying life’ is a choice.
Love, love, love # 5! So true. Why do you like being an author?
The book I’ll never forget is Beyond Ourselves by Catherine Marshall. It changed my life. I’d like to do that for someone else.
Do you have a fond memory of interaction with a reader?
Several months after I set up my first website I asked the Lord if anyone ever read it. A few days later I got an e-mail from a man in Washington State. He had found my website and asked if I still had any copies of my second book. His pastor’s wife was still using the book in marriage counseling 23 years after it had been published. Since it was out-of-print she lent her copy to couples and insisted they return it. He said it had helped him and his wife and he wanted his own copy. I was blessed to send his pastor’s wife quite a few copies as well for future use.
Available Grace: True Short Stories of the Rewards of Intentional Living is a collection of remembrances of God’s intervention into the common occurrences of my life, my family and sometimes my friends. We are ordinary but Jesus lifted our lives into the realm of the miraculous by His healing, provision, encouragement or comfort. His answers to my prayers or needs were always surprising and always grace.
Sounds like a wonderful book. Where can readers find your book online?
This book can be purchased by clicking on Available Grace: True Short Stories of the Rewards of Intentional Living
Marianne, thank you again for sharing with us today. I enjoyed chatting with you, hearing your special memories of July 4th with your dear friend and learning more about you and your book.
Hope you all can stay around to chat with Marianne.
If you don’t jump at the chance some opportunities present—then you miss out on a world of possibilities. Gold Rush