The Cactus and His Spittoon

For as long as I can remember, the Fourth of July was the biggest holiday in the Carter family. As big as Christmas was, the Fourth of July was bigger. We were always at the lake house and even after I grew up and had a family of my own, we would travel to the lake house for the Fourth. I associate the Fourth with my dad.

Here it is… my second Fourth of July without him in my life.

The last time I saw my dad alive was the Fourth of July holiday in 2012. We made the 600 mile trip from Tulsa to Kermit and instead of the lake, we celebrated in town, at his new house. He worked so hard to have it ready to accommodate all of his kids and their kids. He was literally still installing the shower in the shop guest house when we arrived. He had a new home, a beautiful new pool, and he was beaming with pride when showing it off to us.

I was four months pregnant with his namesake, Jaxx Henry, and that was the closest he would ever be to my fourth child. We enjoyed our time there and vowed to keep it an annual “reunion” before heading back to Oklahoma.

He died, suddenly, 29 days later.

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