Originally published in the Miami News-Record on July 12, 2015.
It all started back in 2002. It was July 3rd. Paul was on the brush hog and I had just managed to get all three kids down for a nap at the same time. I kicked on the attic fan and lay down on the couch to catch a quick nap myself. I woke up when I realized the attic fan wasn’t on anymore. I had set the timer for an hour and thought surely I hadn’t slept that long. It was quiet. Too quiet. I went down the hall…. and heard crackling. It took about 3 seconds for me to realize it was fire. I woke up the kids, grabbed Kady out of her crib, snatched up the diaper bag and ran out of the house. I tried waving down Paul in the field, but he was in the zone out there on his tractor. It finally took letting the kids take turns honking the car horn to get his attention. The fire didn’t damage anything more than the attic fan itself and we considered ourselves very fortunate.
The following year on July 3rd Paul had a car vs. motorcycle wreck. Unfortunately, he was on the motorcycle. The kids and I had been swimming at my sister’s and walked in the door to the phone ringing. Sam, who was four, answered the phone then said, “Cool! I hear sirens!” When I snatched the phone from my son all I heard was Paul’s friend screaming that Paul had been hit, it was “bad”, and I needed to go to the hospital. He had let the friend drive the bike and Paul was on the back. The guy stalled the bike as they pulled onto the highway. Paul was thrown (people who saw the wreck said he looked like a rag doll when he flew through the air) and landed under the car. On top of a totaled bike (on which we hadn’t even made the first payment) he had a dislocated shoulder, a concussion, got four staples in his head, and had a lot of road rash. He was sore and banged up, but alive. We considered ourselves very fortunate.
The next year a black snake got in our kitchen window and was perilously close to getting in the house when I found it. The year after that Abby spiked a high fever of unknown origin. None of us can remember anything happening in 2006. We were given a break that year I guess.
In 2007 we were flooded in by the river on one side and the creek on the other. We spent seven days unable to leave our house. We had no phone. We had no fireworks. But boy, did we have mosquitoes the size of pterodactyls. We ended up floating my family to the house in Paul’s boat for the 4th. The kids still talk about that being the most fun 4th of July ever. A couple years ago we set the field on fire, but that was kind of our fault for shooting fireworks during a drought.
I don’t really believe in curses, but don’t you find it a wee bit eerie that bad/weird/traumatic things happen to us on the 3rd of July? Not every year, but enough that we all are extra cautious from the time we wake up on that day until we are all safe and accounted for that night.
This year the curse was delayed and Kady was in a minor car accident on the 5th. It was a fender-bender, but shook her up nonetheless. It wasn’t until that night when she was loaded up on ibuprofen, worn out from the excitement that any of us connected the wreck to “the curse”. She hugged me tight and said, “Next year, wrap me in bubble wrap, okay?”
I think I’ll start on July 1st and keep everyone in the house until maybe the 7th or so. Just to be safe. And no one’s allowed to drive or ride anything with a motor.