July 4th, 1975: Feeling the Fireworks

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The Fourth of July holds a very special place in my heart, but it
has nothing to do with the birth of our nation.

During an Independence Day weekend in 1975, my high school held
its 10th year reunion – just after my husband and I divorced from a six-year
marriage that produced two children.

My decision to attend the event created an interesting mix of dread,
excitement, curiosity and apprehension. The fact that I was single and finally
thin (!) only heightened my anxiety. Would Arnold Rosenberg still be nerdy
and funny? Would Jill Paxton still be beautiful and charming? Would there be
anybody for me to date?

Yes. Yes. And Yesssss. There Steven Pastor stood in a white suit with a tanned
face, massive shoulders and startling blue eyes. It was pure fireworks.

Whatever happened to the creepy little kid from Bond Hill Elementary
School?” I screeched. He smiled shyly.

My stomach aflutter, I naturally regressed to high school behavior. My
laugh was high pitched; my words came out silly. I flirted outrageously.

By October, we were dating steadily. By March, we were discussing
marriage. By August, we had tied the knot.

Steven acquired two sons and a wife. I acquired a cat and a chance to
have the kind of marriage of which I had always dreamed.

Over the next several years, we bought a house, gave my sons Harry
and Frank three more brothers –Max, Sam and Louie — and more or less
functioned as a cohesive family unit.

Then one morning Steven came back from driving Frank to the airport
to catch a flight to Tampa to see his Dad. He had a heart breakingly sad look on
his face.

What’s the matter?” I demanded.

I’m tired, I’m cold, and I’m speeding down the freeway at 6 a.m. so
Frank won’t miss his plane. He turns to me and says, ‘Pop, do you know what
the best part of my vacation is? It’s the very first moment I step off the plane
and see my Daddy,”’ he replied.

Step-parenting can hurt.

The “Post-Tampa Blues” was a syndrome we dealt with for many years
as the older boys would come back every summer regaling the younger
boys with glowing reports of their summer with their Dad. We on the other
hand, were strapped with handling rebellions against homework, healthy
meals and bedtime curfews.

The passage of time, a sense of humor, and talking things out all helped.

Steven and I are better in-laws and grandparents today because we
have learned to share holidays, accept differences, and encourage our children
to freely love others. When we finally declared our independence from the
tight “nuclear family” concept, and embraced the idea of an extended
family network, things fell into place.

And we’re still feeling the fireworks.

Iris Ruth Pastor is a slice-of-life author, blogger and motivational speaker.
Reach her at irisruthpastor@gmail.com

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