Colorblock and Sunblock this 4th of July

My husband and I just arrived in Wisconsin to spend the 4th with what remains of his sparse family.

For the past 15+ years, I’ve made a point to get out of town over this break. It has nothing to do with it being a holiday, or my seeking out places to see fireworks, (which by the way, bore me.) No, it’s about distracting myself from the pain this holiday unearths: the death of my dad, who went into the hospital on July 3, never to come out.

My dad was never big on holidays and like Jslow, didn’t like to be the center of attention. But be the center of attention he was on the 4th in his own low-key way. He grilled dogs and burgers on his trusty rusty Weber, Hamm’s in one hand, tongs in the other. He policed the hand-crank ice cream maker in the garage, making sure we all took at least one hundred turns. He ran backyard bingo, rewarding winners with giant zucchinis he grew in our garden, wrapped in bright red ribbons. He erected our rickety ladder at the curb so Uncle Jerry could light fireworks, and handed out punks so we could ignite snakes in the gutter. The front and back yards of our modest ranch house in Fremont overflowed with friends and family and laughter. While I’m here in Wisconsin miles and years away from those Fremont festivities, I hug those memories tight.

In keeping with his character, dad did not don any red, white or blue to celebrate sartorially (he left the goofy get-ups to my mom.) I’m not one for overt displays of holiday-themed dressing either, and patriotism and American Flag fashions in particular have always made me queasy (check out the controversy Balmain caused with their radically expensive ($1,515!) tattered, safety-pinned and cigarette burned American Flag t-shirt.)

One way to declare Independence from bad 4th of July clothing cliches is through the on-trend style of colorblocking: isolate red on your top third body quadrant, white in the middle, and blue on the lower third. The results could cause major fireworks.  Sorry, couldn’t resist.

Happy 4th of July from Blank Stare, Blink. And Happy 4th of July, dad.

6 Responses


    Very sweet and touching. The memories made me tear up. We will be having my parents over for a BBQ today with a few friends. I know I am blessed to still have these times with both my parents. Hugs!

    1. Paula

      Thanks Carrie! I guess your daughter Jen will always have a 4th of July memory of staying at our place with Cutie Pie and the Rocket. You are very lucky to have Merv and Paula. Have a great day!


    Holidays become bittersweet when beloved parents are gone. Gratitude for happy memories helps. It honors your father that you shared these memories.

  3. Paula

    Thanks Norma. You are so right about holidays being so bittersweet. I feel lucky to have all of those fantastic 4ths under my belt. Have a great day. Thanks so much for writing.

    Kelly Connell

    I always enjoyed coming over your house on the 4th, chatting up Al and taking my turn at the crank. I remember we would also play croquette on your front lawn.

  5. Paula

    Forgot about the croquette! I also remember that one 4th where we grabbed all of the random bikes in the garage and rode up to Ohlone. Remember Pinocci on the wicked witch of the west bike? Hope your having a great day, love you Kell. xoxo
    PS: It’s over 100 here. I’m melting.

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