Of Fathers and Fireworks and Light Shining in the Darkness

“Here, take a seat on the bench,” the stranger stood up and pointed to my dad. He was weak and small, too ill to stand for an entire fireworks show or even to wait for it to start.

My dad took the seat on the bench. He’d be content to watch the fireworks from that seat. He’d be full of smiles at the lights, colors, and music from the show.

Little did I know this would be the last time I saw my father alive.

We love fireworks in our family.
There’s so much about the process and preparation in getting to watch fireworks.

Growing up I’d spend the Fourth of July with my dad and his family.
Fireworks were always a must-do.

I have memories of walking for what seemed like miles (just in an effort to save on parking costs) to get to the fireworks.
I remember waiting for hours for the sky to darken and the fireworks to start.
I remember the anticipation of the music and the thrill of finally hearing the 1812 Overture signalling the start of the fireworks.
I remember my dad analyzing the fireworks and their colors, sharing lessons in science of why we saw more or less of certain fireworks’ colors.
I remember the awe.
I remember the tired nights walking back to the car, blankets and coolers in hand.
I remember the light in the darkness.

We love fireworks in our family.

During my first Thanksgiving living in my new home of Sedalia, Missouri starting a new job in the church, my parents and fiance’ came to visit for the holiday.

Sedalia, Missouri has the tradition of fireworks on Thanksgiving Night. Rather than blankets on the grass and coolers of cold drinks, the night brings hot chocolate, carolers, and scarves and gloves.

Watching the fireworks on Thanksgiving evening wasn’t even a question!

The historic hotel in town shoots the fireworks from their rooftop. The street is closed and visitors stand looking in awe towards the hotel. Christmas music is played for the first time for the season. Hot chocolate is plentiful. The hotel is decorated for the Christmas season - trees, and lights adorn the hotel lobby for visitors to see.

To get out of the cold and to rest a bit, we went to the hotel lobby to take in the decorations. I have a picture of my dad and I sitting on one of the couches, a beautifully decorated tree behind us. This picture is the last one taken of the two of us before he died a few days after Christmas.

To me the picture shows a shell of my dad as he’d been so weak and sick. But he’s smiling. He’s anticipating fireworks. He’s thankful for his daughter and family. He’s grateful to be visiting his daughter in her first church.

He knew he was sick but not afraid of what was to come.

The lights shining in the darkness behind us.

We made our way outside and found our spots, my dad took a seat on the bench.

The fireworks began, our eyes looking to the sky.
The lights shining in the darkness.
Shining for miles.
Lighting up the sky.

The reminder that light and love will never die.