If you’ve read this blog for some time, you may recall occasional mentions that my father was fond of Tootsie Rolls. And he often snuck them to his grandkids, long after I had told him no more sweets for the little ones.

But, that’s what Grandparents do. They’re exempt from the rules.

We celebrated the Fourth at my sister’s home, all the while missing my Dad, who loved celebrating our freedom on the Fourth of July. I could picture him carving the watermelon as we arrived like he did in years past, sneaking a bite every couple of minutes ‘to make sure it was ripe.

We ate Dad’s favorite cheeseball in his honor, and told stories about him around the table, laughing when we talked about how strict Dad was when it came to his three daughters having boyfriends, and how he often flipped the porch light on and off once we’d returned home from a date, his way of saying ‘get in the house.‘ Now that I think about it, it’s a wonder that the three of us ever married.

Just like any other day, it wasn’t the same without Dad, a noticeably absent smiling presence. Yet, it ended with a ‘sign’ that he was watching over us, when we ordered some pizzas to be delivered, only to find a handful of Tootsie Rolls inside the box, a gimmick of the pizza company.

‘Papaw Pizza,’ as my nieces called it. Hands down, the best kind.