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.
I wrote about that here Bad Company
When I returned to Kermit in August to bury my dad, his small, brass spittoon still sat on the table by the pool. Out of respect, I asked his wife if I could take it. She allowed me to have it so, I washed it out and cried into it, as if my entire childhood rested in my hand. My dad dipped Copenhagen for as long as I can remember. There was a spittoon around, somewhere, always. It is a staple in my mind. I associate spittoons with my dad.
That spittoon has sat on the nightstand next to my bed every since. It’s been almost two years. I didn’t know what to do with it, but I just needed it. My dad always had a “change bowl” in his room. I associate “change bowls” with my dad. Maybe I could make it a “change bowl?” No, that’s not “it.” My dad also loved cactus. There was always cactus growing at the lake house where I grew up and he sure babied those stupid things! He had them planted everywhere! I associate cactus with my dad.
Last week it came to me. I am going to plant a tiny cactus in his spittoon!
And that’s exactly what I did.
I know in my heart that he would love it. I wish he was here so I could surprise him with it when we go to Texas for our Fourth of July family time… but that is long gone. Maybe someday I will place it on his grave once a proper headstone rests there.
All that remains now is this little spittoon and the cactus I planted in it.