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Giving thanks on July 4

July 11, 2016
by Kathleen Mears
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This, just past, July Fourth was chilly – only 65 degrees Fahrenheit at noon. I remember only one other July 4 with similar weather. It was in 1982 a few months after my parents died (both at 63) within five weeks of each other. I was invited to spend that holiday at a friend’s farm for a cookout. The weather had been lovely and sunny so far that summer, and I was looking forward to it.

But on that July 4, the weather was dry but it was around 60 degrees Fahrenheit. I went to the farm with much anticipation but we ended up sitting outside with down vests on to keep warm. After a while, we gave it up and went indoors. Though the food was grilled outside, we ate inside. To me it is strange that I have no other memories of that day.

This July 4 rolled in quite the same way. The early morning, at least before 6 a.m., was quite dark. Very little light shone through my window. It had rained, and the temperature had dropped.

I thought about wearing something with three-quarter length or long sleeves, but I had nothing in either sleeve length in patriotic colors. I always think holidays are special if I dress for them. Doing that makes me feel better and might raise the spirits of others. So I put on two T-shirts to stay warm and wore red, white, and blue.

Because of the dark morning many of the residents were sound asleep and had to be roused several times for breakfast. The dining room seemed dreary and was quiet. Residents ate quickly and many of them headed back to bed.

As I looked at residents and staff, I realized many of them probably wished they were anywhere else. I only saw one resident go out for the day. I know others probably remembered past Independence Days spent with family and friends.

At lunchtime, the residents again had to be coaxed to go to the dining room. When I got there, it was still relatively empty. The nurses cajoled and prodded as did the aides to get the residents to eat and socialize a bit.

In the end more, residents than I thought showed up. They ate cookout-style food with relish, and I am sure with some gratitude. As I left the dining room, I realized that I made it through another July 4 without family and friends with me. When my family was around, I tended to take them for granted. Our Fourth of July was spent watching Wimbledon until dad came home from golfing so we could have a small cookout. The plans were not grand, but they were usual.

My memories of past July 4 are precious to me. I realize though I like being by myself, I am glad I live with others with whom I can spend meals and other activities. I feel like I am part of an extended family. I also like being with staff who share themselves on the holiday.




Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...