The 4th of July has always been one of my favorite holidays. Dad earned his United States citizenship while serving in the Army during the Korean War. That makes me a 1st generation American. I also spent 10 years in the US Army. So the 4th of July means freedom to me – not just BBQ’s and fireworks.
But 10 years ago this July, Dad passed away. Yesterday, recalling some fond memories with my Mom, we both agreed that the past 10 years has flown by. Yet, it seems like so long since we got to see Dad. The 4th of July is bittersweet for me now. Time has a way of doing that…. The older we get, every holiday has more meanings to it. Every relationship does too. What used to seem like big things, seem to mean so little. And the little things in life tend to mean much more.
And then today during a conversation with a friend, I caught myself reflecting on my “job,” which – to be honest DOES feel like a job on most days. But every now and then, it doesn’t. It feels more like – a gift.
You see, very, very recently I had the sweetest of opportunities, which I found myself remembering (and cherishing) today.
I met a sweet, kind, soft-spoken gentleman who received a US Flag in the door of his hospital room, signifying to all who would walk by or enter, that he was a US veteran. He was so glad to receive it, to be recognized, to feel appreciated, that he began to cry, and he shook my hand and the hand of the resident physician, and thanked US for serving HIM. He asked if he could take it with him, and said he would always remember us and would always keep that flag.
We shared some fun that day, giggling together each time I entered the room, standing at attention and waiting for my salute to be returned.
I couldn’t help but remember Dad. He was kind, just like Dad. He was a gentleman, just like Dad. He was thoughtful, just like Dad.
You know, people just really want to be appreciated and acknowledged. I get to do that. What a privilege sometimes – to go to work. Every now and then, we get a really extra special patient, who reminds us why we do what we do. Being able to put a smile on someone’s face – Sometimes, I just can’t believe I get paid to do that……
As I left my shift that day, I said goodbye to that sweet man, and I saluted him one more time. He got a kick out of that, and dismissed me for the day, thanking me once more with tears in his eyes. And I couldn’t help but remember the last time I saluted Dad when we said our goodbyes. Oh, what a gem he was….
Happy 4th of July in heaven, Dad……