I’ll admit I was a little nervous about Martin and Lynn’s annual Fourth of July party this year, what with Martin being dead and all.

See, it was really Martin’a party, and the man lived – and died – large and majestic, a big funny charming guy who dominated the little shaded patio every Fourth of July, overseeng barbecue and telling his stories and being the sort of lovable human glue that made people return to his party on the Fourth year after year.

The last couple of years were tough for Martin – his heart slowly failing him, an oxygen line trailing him around the garden – but he was still the same commanding presence at his parties. Only he would sit in one spot, and we would come to him, and his friends took up the solemn task of barbecue while he continued to hold court.

Martin died this spring, and Lynn’s been having a tough time, but she decided about a week ago to go ahead with the barbecue. All the same faces were there, people I don’t really know except for once a year. There was the usual big spread of food – Larry’s salsa, a big fruit salad, deviled eggs, chips and diet Coke and I even ate a hamburger. It’s a Fourth of July barbecue! It was good. I’m glad Lynn decided to continue.