When I was young, I spent lots of time at Granny’s house. She was a career public school music teacher and, after retirement, taught voice and piano privately. Even had a “musical kindergarten” called Rhythm Band. In her small town, everyone knew her as the spunky, creative… and slightly nutty… lady who brought joy and beautiful music – and a bit of the unexpected – to nearly every holiday gathering in town.
Aside from Christmas… and Halloween… and Valentine’s Day… well, hell, she loved every holiday, who am I kidding? It seemed that July 4, 1976, was a challenge for her. She went nuts, decorating EVERYTHING in sight with red, white, and blue, and honing up on her piano versions of all things patriotic. It was insane but really amusing to watch.
Tonight, thumbing through a box of old photos, I came across one that truly represented just how geared up she was for our 200th birthday celebration. Okay, so let’s build a giant birthday cake out of boxes, wipe out the local dollar store of its miniature flags, stick the thing in the back yard, and get the oldest grandkid to dress up like Uncle Sam to pose for pictures.
Geez, the other two grandkids were BOYS, for crap’s sake! At least she didn’t make me wear a beard. Well, they were only about four and two at the time… they weren’t tall enough to peer over the top layer yet.
Yep, that’s me. Nine years old. The curse of being the oldest was always serving as “guinea pig” for photo shoots like this. I think she secretly enjoyed this – thank goodness she never showed it to any of my friends. Ugh.
Truth is, this year, I would have given my left, er, ovary, to have climbed up on that damn cake, listening to her direct with more finesse than a Hollywood producer, “Now, wave the flags and smile, Leigh,” as she snapped the photo. I would have sung every patriotic song I knew, if it would have meant a little more time with her.
Well, except for that awful “God Bless the USA” song. Forgive me — if you were subjected to that song as often as I was as a kid, you’d feel the same way. Seriously, you would. (Sorry, Granny.)
July 4, or any holiday for that matter, doesn’t quite have the same sparkle as it did when she was in charge of making them fabulous.