CARING IN DuPage
WHAT THE 4TH OF JULY MEANS TO US Independence in Everything
F resh watermelon, sweet corn, and apple pie—growing up in a rural area, this was my version of the Fourth of July. There wasn’t much traffic out in the rural areas where I’m from, so we’d head into town and set up a farm stand with all our fresh produce. We’d have delicious fruits and veggies, but the best part was interacting with the community.
and watching the fireworks carry an increased sense of meaning: identity, unity, and freedom.
The Fourth of July was a big deal inmy family because it gave my grandmother the opportunity to be active with
those closest to her. She struggled with Alzheimer's and dementia, and keeping her engaged during the Fourth was part of our family tradition. Sometimes an individual is wrongfully treated like their medical condition instead of like a person. My grandmother was a person, just as our home-care clients are people who need extra attention to overcome health obstacles. As her ailment progressed, her mind began to gravitate toward things we didn’t understand. But we made accommodations for her condition while maintaining the respect and love for her she deserved. Sometimes that called for us to help Grandma in strange little ways, like by putting belts on the fridge to prevent her from taking all the Popsicles to her room tomelt. But the nature of her condition didn’t mean she should be treated as anything less than a treasuredmatriarch. Firsthand experiences formulate us, and holidays where my grandma anticipated the sweet taste of a watermelon Popsicle, just like me, played a big part in who I am today. My grandmother has since passed, but we keep those family traditions alive. We always go to the parade. My son is a Boy Scout, and they have a featured section in the parade most years. After that, our friend hosts a big barbecue where everyone can have some delicious food and catch up with each other. Once we’re stuffed, we pack up and go to the summer carnival. I like to sit on the hillside in the park and relax while the kids run around with sparklers or get sticky from snow cones and ice cream. Once it gets dark, we sit as a family and watch the fireworks. My daughter loves the ones that change color. When the first firework lights up the night sky green, and then turns to blue, you can see her face light up right along with it. My son is your typical boy, so the biggest and loudest boom is his favorite. Celebrating independence can take onmany forms, but for us, it’s somuchmore than the holiday itself. It’s about the people you spend it with. My fondest memories aren’t born from the days when I’m running around trying to squeeze in errands. They come from the time I spend with family in the free-flowing exchange of love. I’mproud to have a day to celebrate independence and evenmore proud to share it with the ones I care about the most.
No one wants to feel held down or confined in their life. That’s why the nationwide celebration of independence on July Fourth is a good reminder of just how important it is to celebrate individual freedoms and independence. The people
with disabilities in DuPage County thrive during this holiday because our community actively engages them in local celebrations and events. Our caregivers give their clients the same opportunity to pursue their freedoms, even if it’s in the smallest of ways. If we can't get them to the parade, then we’ll make sure to set up a spot on their porch and give them a flag to wave. There’s somuch upheaval for individuals whose multiple medical conditions interfere with daily life that participating in community events, chatting with the neighbors,
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