As the Easter season approaches my thoughts drift to the long-ago days of my childhood, where memories have turned golden and sweet with time.
I was one of six kids and we lived in a three bedroom house in a small Michigan village. My parents purchased the town newspaper when I was six, and times were tough, although we kids didn't know we were poor. We only knew that our friends had more toys than we.
When holidays rolled around mom made sure that we enjoyed our family traditions. On Easter mornings we awoke to find Easter baskets set out in a row on the dining room table, our names clearly marked so there would be no misunderstandings. While we were told that the Easter bunny came and filled them while we slept, none of us took it to heart. After all, why would a cuddly little bunny with mystical powers bring us hum-drum things like hair combs, tooth brushes and new underwear? I rather believed that if he was real, he'd bring things such as shiny new toys and bags of candy.
After Easter service there were chores to do befor dinner and the house had to be spotless for company. Somehow between church and dinner, mom and dad managed to hide the eggs...and they didn't just drop the eggs into a corner and call them hidden. Nosireebob. They were downright mean about it. And when I say mean, I mean mean!
Eggs were sewn into the seams of draperies, placed inside furniture cushions and set inside chandelier lights. Once I found one inside a hollowed out loaf of bread, and another time an egg was placed inside a cleaned-out, emptied soup can which had been replaced on the shelf along with the other canned goods. Yet another egg was found on top of a ceiling tile which had been carefully removed and replaced.
Wicked indeed were those egg hunts...and we all surely looked forward to them!
My folks were fun when it came to things like that, but they weren't particularly organized and didn't always write down every place an egg had been hidden. So it wasn't unusual to find an egg in the middle of summer after the heat had risen to unbearable highs. Oooh, the stench when one was accidentally broken! One whiff and everyone knew the 'lost had been found!'
While fun was a big part of our holidays, it wasn't the main goal and our folks made sure we knew the meanings of each. They weren't rigid by any means but they taught us the message of the Birth of Jesus and the Cross; of the death and resurrection of Christ. My dad took time to teach me that God loved me so much that I was never alone, even if bad things were to happen, which they did.
My folks have been gone for many years now and I miss them. In 1997, dad died as a result of lung cancer treatments. The day before he died, he sat in the Hospice bed, gasping for air, unable to say but a few words at a time. He raised his arms and said out loud, "Jesus...Jesus...Jesus." The next day he was gone, and I will always rejoice that he taught me how to die as one with hope.
My mom is in an Allheizemer's home and sometimes she knows me when I go to visit. While she may not know her visitors, she always knows Jesus. When I say a little prayer with her before I leave, she smiles and gets a twinkle in her eye.
"You know Jesus, don't you mom?" I ask. She smiles and quietly answers, "Yes."
Life has been difficult and my path has been strewn with tears, but I always remember how dad took the time to show me the intricate details of little flowers and explain that God put them there for us to enjoy. How thankful I am to have that.
As I get older and more of my family and friends have passed on, I look forward to one day lying at the feet of Jesus and worshiping him face to face. I also look forward to making new memories with those who are already there.
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