If you held back on bangs, pops and especially BOOMS this Fourth of July season, Missy would like to thank you.
For those of you who know our Missy, that may sound a little odd. After all, Missy slams out music from her stereo at a volume that the band in “This Is Spinal Tap” would envy, with a dial that goes past 11 and all the way to 17. Back in the days when KBPI bragged that it “rrrrrrocks the Rockies,” I’m pretty sure Missy was already shaking a fourteener or two herself with an ultra-high-power recording of “Rocky Mountain Way.”
But she’s also developmentally disabled. That comes with a few side effects.
One of hers, as it turns out , is that she really hates sudden and unexpected loud noises.
Most of the time, that just means she jumps out of her shoes when she hears a motorcycle rev up or a car backfire. But when we get into the second half of June and the first week of July, it often becomes an auditory minefield that keeps her nerves on edge and her sleep uncertain.
Don’t get me wrong. I personally have nothing against Independence Day fireworks. Growing up, I used to wave sparklers, light fountains, and even climb up the ladder to the roof with Dad to watch the local skyrockets. (That last can be an interesting challenge when you’ve just soaked down all the shingles to guard against someone’s stray illicit bottle rocket.) It was a night of noise and color that easily lit up a grade-schooler’s heart.
So yeah, as long as it’s not a bad wildfire season, I can get on board with some July 4 special effects, finding ways to keep the dog calm and Missy distracted for one night.
It’s the three to four weeks of constant vigilance for the additional voluntary celebrations that can get a little wearing.
I know we’re not alone. There are folks who have their own issues, maybe because of a pet who thinks the world is ending, a vet who doesn’t need to hear explosions without warning, or a neurological issue like Missy’s where the sharp stimulation is just too much. Those stories and more are out there and we hear about them from time to time.
So if you dialed back the usual artillery this year – or if you’re holding back these next few days after the Fourth is done – thank you. If you’re thinking ahead to next year and maybe revising a few plans, thank you. We really, truly appreciate it.
More than that, we appreciate the spirit behind it … the same spirit of thoughtfulness to neighbors that has been reinforced so many times in the last year.
That thoughtfulness meant masking up as the pandemic set in, even when it was inconvenient and annoying, so that others could survive.
That thoughtfulness meant hitting the shovels and the snow blowers over and over in the midst of a major March blizzard, even when resting in a warm home would feel so good, so that others could make it through. (Trying to guide a wheelchair through a snowy sidewalk is No Fun.)
That thoughtfulness meant taking a moment to think of others, even when it meant a little more work or restraint for ourselves.
That’s the sort of thing that builds a good neighborhood. A good community. Even, carried far enough, a good country.
That’s a spirit that’s worth celebrating. And I think we can do a bang-up job of it.
Er … so to speak.