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American as Apple Pie

What does Independence Day mean to you? Is it the official beginning of summer, fireworks, hot dogs and potato salad? If, like a friend from South Africa, you came from another country and studied up hoping to pass the exam for American citizenship, it means something far more serious. For many it stands for the freedom to live life as we please without interference. My grandnephew, James, remembers long before his adoption that his Russian grandmother had to hide in a closet to pray. My niece has spoken of the warmth of the people she met on that trip to Russia. The children at the Orphan's Home were schooled in manners, deportment and how to set a table in hopes of getting new adoptive American parents. Another nephew and his wife went to Romania to adopt a son and he speaks of the coldness they encountered. Desolate, forlorn and bereft are words he used to describe his experience and the place. Getting those children out of orphanages into American homes was a godsend, yet, both countries have long since ended foreign adoptions. This July fourth we are resting up for James' sister, Cassandra's wedding next week. That will be our big celebration as we remember how differently the lives of that pair might have been.


As a kid, the fourth meant major hustle and bustle, great smells of cooking in the air and frantic calls from the kitchen for a corn shucker and watermelon cutter. I was usually busy with a hammer setting off rolls of caps on the sidewalk in front. Later, in the dark, I would, without fail, step barefooted on a hot sparker wire. As a young mother, I called Children's Hospital when a firecracker went off close to my son's head. They assured me his hearing would return and, after a while, it did. He was good to go---to rock concerts when he got older.


So, my definition of independence is the freedom to live my life just as I wish, no hint of interference from anywhere or anyone. To some, my life might appear mundane, even boring, but it's mine all mine and I thank God every day for it.


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