I was raised on gun shows, Sunday school, and part-time jobs and steeped in American tradition. Despite this, Independence Day reminds me more of my great-grandmother than patriotism and fireworks. Nana was born on July 4, 1900, and she always said the fuss each year was about her birthday, not our country’s. Nana was a young teenager when the Great War erupted, and a young mother by the time women were given the right to vote. She lived through the Great Depression and a few of her own, and her life was something that always intrigued me.
By the time I was a young woman, Nana was already very old, and her words were few. She spent most of her energy enjoying her thoroughly pink apartment and making quilts for her grand-children, great-grandchildren, and others along the way. She was confused about the state of modern life in the early 90s as she gave me the last quilt she made just before she passed. As her first great-great grandchild grew in my belly, she handed the gift to me, a child’s size version of many she had made before. Her weakened state had slowed her stitches, but Nana gave me a few words of advice in the last days, and they seem to be sewn into the fabric.
She said, “Don’t be too strict with your kids. Just make sure they know you love them. Other people may look at you while they laugh and run around, but when you are old, their playing is what you will want to remember.” Nana was right; many question my ways, but it’s independence I seek to instill. I strive to maintain ethics and rigor, but I’ve chosen a path others question sometimes. My children will face a life I can’t understand, the way Nana was fascinated by new-fangled computers, but one thing I know — Independence is family tradition!