July 4th = food, family, fireworks, life & death

This is my first 4th of July as a US citizen and I am spending it in the panhandle of Texas – the heart of America and big food. Even when it is not a holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas, being with family always means eating lots of food. Either we are sitting down for massive meals to celebrate being together or we are overloading on traditional family deserts – homemade chocolate cake, apple pie, and ice cream.

Yet this 4th is bittersweet as the family is gathering to remember a lost family member. She lived life with such joy and generosity, it is really hard to say goodbye. I still find it hard to accept the inevitability of death. Yet as one uncle said – death is what makes life worthwhile, gives it urgency, and prevents endless procrastination. While the family assembles, I am staying with grandpa at a lovely assisted living home – where everyone has their own apartment but every meal is provided. Yet it provides a stark contrast. While the grandchildren are feasting on BBQ, Tex-Mex, and chocolate chip cookies, the older generations are scarcely eating. When you are in your 80s or 90s, you have earned the right to eat whatever sweet desert you want – but you forget to eat or, in the end, no longer want to.

But I just hope to get to that point. All this grief makes me want to live. Perhaps my wife and I can age together gracefully – two crazy old ladies. So instead, I am taking the elevator down, past the poker playing residents, to go run in the warm evening Texas air.

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