The 4th of July is a great way to reflct on the men and women who paved the road for all of us.  We have many, many freedoms of this country.  At the end of a festive day, I think about that during the fireworks.  I think about how fortunate I am to live here.  It is far from perfect, but I am blessed in the life I have and, that life wouldn't be possible in many other places in the world. 

The 4th of July also makes me reflect back to 1997.  It was the night my Grandpa died.  I still remember it like it was yesterday.  It still makes me sad.  I cried through the fireworks that year and I still struggle to get through them every year.  15 years ago, my Dad, Mom, and oldest brother left our celebration to go be with my Grandpa, better known as 'Pa'.  And I knew during those moments, that Pa would no longer be around.  It made me angry for all of the missed opportunities.  I should have listened longer.  Spent more time with him.  He had great stories.  He had a smile that would light up a room.  He was a joker - he was always able to make people feel comfortable.  He was a great man, no doubt about it.  And, I would bet that anyone that spent time with him would agree.  He and my Grandma raised 8 great kids on a Farmers pay.  They were married just shy of 51 years.  My Grandma has been without him for 15 years - I can't even imagin what that must be like, starting over with out that person who has been there forever.  It is sad to think about the loss of him, but it is also a blessing to reflect on how blessed we are to have known him.  Grandpa was the youngest of 16.  He and his siblings were raised in North Dakota during the Great Depression.  The way of life they experienced, it is impossible to even comprehend today.  Grandpa was not hardened by what he lived through, instead he flourished because of it.  His intentional life is still carried on through all of us, in our smile, in our laugh, in our Norwegian heritage.  Our last name, Gudmunson, is part of many conversations.  By strangers who ask where it came from and by those who have lived here all of their life an know the name well - because Pa has always served it well. 

Here is a video of Pa and I.  I had a 'cracked' leg when I was 3.  Pa loved to tease me about it - even when I was a teenager, he would joke with me about my broken leg.  I was always quick to correct him, "It's cracked!" 

I always tell people of the little sign Pa had hanging on his back door - it was there for as long as I can remember - and I always get a good laugh from those who I share it with.

"You can always tell a Norweigain, but you can't tell 'em much"

Happy 4th of July Pa - you are loved, and missed.