My parents got married on the 4th of July.
It was a second wedding for each of them. They exchanged vows in my Mom’s aunt’s backyard and hosted their reception at my (bonus) Dad’s parents’ camp on a lake in Ashburnham.
I was ten.
As I remember, the ceremony was simple and touching. The bride and the groom both cried – as did most of the guests (including me) – for all of the right reasons. And the party afterwards was filled with actual and figurative fireworks.
After the boat was docked for the night and all of the water skis, floats and sand toys were put away, and my newlywed parents were off to spend a kid-less night at the Fitzwilliam Inn, my new (and yet, somehow forever) Grammy put on the Boston Pops.
She brushed my cousin Amanda’s hair and scratched her back as she told the rest of us grandkids that, the 4th just wasn’t the 4th without the Pops.
I asked if she and Papa had ever seen the Pops live. She said they hadn’t.
Eleven years later, during my senior year of college, I landed a job as the Assistant Promotions Manager at STAR 99.9 in Milford, Connecticut.
This job consisted of such glamorous tasks as driving the station’s minivan (wrapped in bright pink and purple logos and call letters) to deliver cookie grams to local businesses that might be interested in buying some airtime.
I also got to fetch a lot of coffee, set-up multiple pop-up tents (all by my lonesome), lug remarkably heavy speakers to and from events, and file an extraordinary amount of paperwork for an obscene number of contests.
Right before Christmas, one of these contests happen to offer family four packs of tickets to catch a special Boston Pops performance at a venue in Bridgeport.
I’d never asked the station for anything – not even for one of the turned down cookie trays from one of the more health conscious workplaces – but, I knew enough to lead with the story of my parents’ wedding.
Minutes later with a pair of tickets in hand, I called Grammy and asked if she’d let me send her and Papa to the Pops for Christmas.
They’d still never seen them live.
I cried – for all of the right reasons – when she said yes.
The night of the performance my grandparents made the four-hour drive (in three-hours courtesy of Papa’s lead foot) to my corner of New England. We went out for a delicious northern Italian dinner and then I reached across the table and proudly passed over their tickets.
“You’re sure you don’t want to go?” Grammy asked.
“I’m positive. This is like the best thing I’ve ever done. I kinda can’t believe I’m even in a position to do it.”
With that, Grammy didn’t push anymore – she just let me soak up all the good that comes in finding a way to give back to those who give so much.
It was the first time I ever really felt like a grown-up and where I go back to whenever I need to remember that I’m a good kid.