Life Is Beautiful

Angela was asleep. It had been a long day. Somehow, midway through the fireworks, she had fallen asleep in her father’s lap.

There's nothing like a father's protective love.

She had been worried about the loudness of it all week, so her dad had brought his hearing protection home from the construction site where he worked to guard her ears.

The big, orange headgear almost swallowed her face whole, but it worked.

Inside the protection of that soundproof helmet and snuggled into Dad’s hard and tanned forearms, Angela began to feel sleepy and nodded right off.

Maybe it was the four hot dogs she had consumed throughout the day. Maybe it was the playing and swimming with all her cousins that wore her out.

It might have even been because there, with Dad, was the first time she had sat down since her excited, dancing feet hit the floor that Fourth of July morning.

Whatever it was, she had now earned the rest that children and their carefree minds deserve.

So while Angela slept and the sky provided light from above, Angela’s mom put the food back in the baskets and coolers. She rolled up the towels and blankets and set all of this on the wagon.

She waved silent goodbyes to the assorted aunts, uncles and cousins scattered all over the lawn. Dad stood with Angie over his shoulder, and the three of them started to pick their way through the patchwork quilt of humanity stretched across the park with eyes gazing upward.

Angela was laid into the back seat and the trunk was loaded. By leaving before the show was over, there was no traffic and the little family was home in 15 minutes.

As they got out of the car, they could hear the distant thunder of the “grand finales” taking place in neighboring towns. The air was cooler, but still warm from a Midwest summer July day.

Mom keyed into the house and drew back Angie’s blankets and Dad, carrying her behind, laid her down, turned on the overhead fan and kissed her lightly enough that she didn’t awaken.

He descended the steps, emptied the trunk and, as his wife emptied the coolers and baskets, he took the dog into the back yard for a final bathroom visit before “lights out.”

Chelsea, their yellow Labrador, seemed grateful for the security she felt when everyone was home as she disappeared deep into the yard for some privacy. Poor old girl never did like that uneasy feeling she got when the skies lit up and loud unexpected noises randomly occurred every July.

As he sat at the picnic table, Dad heard the screen door slam and his beautiful wife came around the corner holding the last glass of lemonade from the thermos they had almost drained that day.

She was shoeless as always, and he couldn’t believe how completely pregnant she looked from the front and how completely NOT pregnant she looked from the back. It simply looked like she’d swallowed a basketball.

Her healthy, lean metabolism had brought forth such a beautiful baby with Angela that he couldn’t wait to see what her new little sister would look like.

Having heard that it was to be another girl, the guys at work had been teasing him about his inability to create a boy. He smiled and took their teasing, but deep inside was happy to have another girl.

He liked the protective feeling he had watching over a house full of girls–his girls. He was their hero all the time. He considered it an honor.

On the winter nights, lying on his back in front of the fireplace, Angie would curl into one of Dad’s arms and his wife into the other. He would let his limbs tingle and “fall asleep” before ever thinking about disturbing their rest. The radio would play softly as the snow fell outside.

Yeah, another little girl would be just fine with him.

His wife drew a long sip from the cup and handed it to him. It was still ice cold and he drained it. She sat next to him and leaned on his shoulder. No words were spoken. No words were needed.

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