I haven’t died, at least not in the sense where you could present a certificate and collect on my life insurance.
I’ve paid way too much attention to the NCAA basketball tournament over the last 4 days, especially for someone whose team didn’t make the cut. But, hey, we’re a high seed in the NIT!
We don’t really “do” Easter here, with no kid to bribe with candy baskets and no religious attachments to spur us to more adult observation. A festive rite for the arrival of spring might be appropriate in some years, but Easter is upon us so early this year that we’re just not feelin’ it yet, especially after the run in the icy rain today down to the gym and back.
But as we were sitting at dinner, I recollected, as much for my mother-in-law’s benefit as anything, a couple of Easters past that stood out.
The first occurred when I was probably 5 years old, spring of 1955. For reasons that, as I look back, I can’t fathom, my grandparents took me off my parents’ hands for a trip (by car, of course, in those days) from our Ohio home to Gulfport, MS and New Orleans. In retrospect, it was probably to keep me from killing my new baby brother in his crib, but no one’s ever admitted to this. Anyway, the trip lasted at least 2 weeks, and, since we knew that it would encompass Easter, there was the ticklish problem of whether the Easter bunny was sufficiently omniscient to pay a visit to an absentee. To be safe, we decided that I should color a batch of Easter eggs before I left, and leave them, along with a note as to my general travel plans, for the Easter Bunny to find.
Easter morning arrived in a motel room somewhere in Mississippi. I think my grandparents had damped down my expectations, and when I awoke, I saw no evidence anywhere in the room to disabuse me of my pessimism. When my grandparents woke up, I believe we were discussing the situation when my grandfather frowned, lifted his blanket and pulled out one of the eggs I had colored. This ignited a frenzied hunt around the room, and before we headed off for a rural church service, I had my eggs and a basket of candy. I’m sure the eggs were quietly disposed of, having traveled for three or four un-air-conditioned days down the blue highways that were the principal routes back then.
The second recollection was probably five years later. We were fairly frequent church-goers back then, but my dad only went on special days, about twice a year. When he did go, he hated for anyone to see him or engage in any chit-chat. As I remember, we would come as late as we could and exit by a side door so the minister had no chance to peer at him in puzzlement as our unaccustomed companion. (In his defense, he engaged in a lifelong battle with agoraphobia.)
On this particular Easter, we kids had been dropped off for Sunday School, and then our parents had met us and, to avoid unnecessary scrutiny, we’d scurried upstairs to the balcony, which was darker than the main chapel and had only a few rows of seats. On this particular Easter, we had received small Easter baskets during Sunday School, stocked with little eggs or jelly beans or something, and we had them with us up in the balcony, a balcony constructed of wood with a sloping floor to better accommodate sight lines. At some very quiet part of the service, probably when everyone had their eyes closed for a silent prayer or reflection, my brother’s basket disgorged its contents, and the hard little morsels rolled like holy thunder down the floor, under the seats of the rows in front of us until they were arrested either by people’s feet or by the front wall of the balcony.
Of course, every eye with an angle was fixed on us, downstairs and upstairs, and I’m not sure my dad ever recovered from the mortification. I don’t remember if we sat out the service, or left immediately, but I’m fairly sure there was the Devil to pay.
I’m about 1 1/2 here - it’s ca Easter, 1951.