One of my brothers-in-law has a thing for fireworks. Usually, he puts them off in the church parking lot, but at this time—years ago—he and my sister had just moved into their new house and wanted to have a get-together. Since it was close to Fourth of July, they decided to do fireworks at their new place and make it kind of a housewarming thing.
They invited their whole church. My brother-in-law had grown up in it, but my sister was new and kind of uncomfortable yet, so she pleaded with me to come down, too.
I had a ten-day-old baby, and my boys were small. This was going to be late at night, and she lived about an hour away from me. I don’t recall what Watson was doing. I just know I went myself with my newborn baby and three little boys.
They didn’t have a very large front yard, but they had about twenty-five chairs set up in it in five or six rows facing their short drive where my BIL was going to set the fireworks off.
When I got there, my sister seemed pretty comfortable. There was food spread out on tables, and she was standing on the porch, surrounded by a circle of ladies, chatting. Her son, who was the same age as one of my kids, was running around, all excited.
She didn’t need me, and I’m always happy to hang out unnoticed. I didn’t really know anyone, although normally I might have chatted, but it was eleven o’clock at night.
While I’m (annoyingly) happy in the morning—even at 4 a.m. I’m in WAY too good of a mood for most people, and I don’t drink coffee, LOL—but by 11 p.m.? I’m definitely NOT at my best. You can multiply that statement by about two thousand when I had a nursing baby and small children. LOL.
My boys, on the other hand, all take after their father and are not shy, and by the time the fireworks were ready to start, all three of them were seated, loud and proud, in the front row. Two of my boys sat side by side, then their cousin—the one whose father was putting off the fireworks—then my other boy sat beside him.
I was in the back, behind all the chairs, praying that it would be short and that I could stay awake for the drive home. ; )
So, anyway, I mentioned it was a new house—their first time putting off fireworks at this place. I also mentioned my brother-in-law was kind of a fireworks freak.
Now, in PA, fireworks that explode or leave the ground are illegal. All the fireworks that my brother-in-law had fell into that category. And yeah, the police will fine and/or arrest you if you’re caught with them. (They did have a state trooper who went to their church, but he wasn’t on duty that night and was in plainclothes, sitting in the chairs with the rest of the congregants. LOL.) So, when you have a bunch of illegal, self-propelled explosives as he did, you kind of have to put them off fast.
My brother-in-law had everything organized, and all he had to do was light a fuse and step back. Which he did.
I suppose part of the reason that fireworks that leave the ground are illegal is because you’ll have idiots who’ll get drunk and do stupid stuff, like light them and hold them in their hands or something. (And if any of you guys do that, I meant “idiots” in the nicest, kindest way possible. : )
Of course, there are other dangers. Like those big, thick telephone wires that crossed my brother-in-law and sister’s driveway. (My brother-in-law is a lineman, which is ironically funny, I guess.)
Anyway, he never noticed the lines, and when the fireworks started shooting up, they hit the lines and bounced back. Some of them knocked down the carefully lined-up cylinders, which made the fireworks shoot off across the ground in crazy directions. Some of those flew into the area where the chairs were along with some of the ones that hit the wires and careened back into the crowd.
You can laugh now, because no one was hurt, but when those fireworks started whistling back, people scattered like rats in a granary when you turn on the lights.
I got to see it, because I was in the back.
My sister’s house was beside the chairs, so I grabbed the car seat with my newborn in it, hugged it to my chest, kind of hunching over it to protect her, and ran to her porch. I found a spot to set her down. Rockets were still shooting all over the yard, and I turned and searched for my boys.
My oldest was dragging the brother he was sitting beside behind him and was just climbing on the porch, but I was missing a kid.
I scanned the crowd on the porch and didn’t see him. My brother-in-law stood off to the side, holding his son who had been in the front row. The kid I was missing had been sitting right beside his.
There were whistles and explosions and bright lights still flashing all different colors exploding in the darkness and making everything seem surreal. I wanted to throw myself over my kids and hunker down until all the noise and confusion stopped, but…I still didn’t see my son.
I scanned the crowd again. No little white-blond head. He had the cutest dimple right beside his mouth too. He loved people, and he wasn’t shy, and I could see him going into a strange house and making himself at home…
Probably only a few seconds had gone by, but it felt like years, when I finally thought to scan the chairs.
Yep. There was one little white-blond head, still sitting in the chair in the front row, just a dozen feet from where the fireworks were shooting off. He was clapping his hands, bouncing on his seat, and having the time of his life while lit rockets buzzed by the side of his head.
So, you know, you don’t even think about it, right?
“Guard them,” I said to my oldest son, referring to his sister and brother, as I ran off the porch, past all the smart people who only had as many kids as they had hands, past all the empty chairs, and around the front row, grabbing my child, who was not very happy at losing the front row seat of the best entertainment he’d had in his entire short life, and bending over him as I raced back to the porch and my other three kids, thinking I was going to die at any second from a rocket exploding behind my head.
That was the son that had heart surgery when he was seven days old. The one that snuck out of the house to street race his pickup, jumped out of our second-story window just for fun, caught rats with his bare hands, and dived off a cliff into water where people don’t always reappear.
The fireworks were just the beginning. *sigh*
It’s also the son who bottle-fed a litter of kittens, cries over sappy movies, and was the best at watching his baby sister because he wasn’t afraid to play dolls and house with her. : )
Alright, don’t forget to grab your copy of the audio of Yesterday’s Treasures!