I remember all of the Easters of my life more clearly than any other holidays. Christmases blur together with only a few standing out in my memory, such as the one when it snowed all day, the year I lost my voice completely and the two times that I wasn’t home — one working in Washington, D.C., and another in London.
My birthdays, Thanksgivings, Halloweens and summer holidays are hard to recall. My husband proposed on my birthday, so that one stands out. On another birthday, Mama helped me take down my Christmas tree. Since it’s Jan. 20, you can imagine how dead that tree was and what a mess it made.
Easters, though? I remember them all. Of course, our family celebrates Easter for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. While it would be admirable — even noble — if I remembered specific Easters for their church sermons, I cannot. They’re all pretty much identical sermons, and the songs rarely vary.
Normally, the weather gives me little reason to recall specific Easters, because it can range from rainy to cold to gorgeous, but I will never forget the last time Easter came on the fourth Sunday in April, which is the latest it can come since Easter falls on the Sunday following the first full moon after spring begins. We already were deep in the throes of spring. Flowers were gorgeous, gardenias were fragrant, trees abundant in greenery, hydrangeas blossoming. We were prepared for the most beautiful of days but awoke to find that a rare, deep freeze had killed everything. We were stunned.
At lunch, we discussed it. Would the flowers and leaves return, or was it too late? No one knew the answer because no one had seen it happen before. (For the record: by late June, the trees had leafed up again and some flowers were hearty enough to re-bloom.)
Actually, it’s rare for me to remember an Easter for reasons other than what really makes them distinctive to me. It is the parade of Easter suits, dresses and hats that I have worn over the years that ground me to a specific Easter. When I look at the photos or videos of our family’s Easter parades, I remember so clearly that moment in time. I recall the sorrows or joys of that season of my life and all that was happening.
The bright-green suit and matching hat from more than a decade ago remind me of the heartbreak of watching Daddy’s decline and how feeble he was that last Easter when he grumbled, as usual, about the Easter parade. In the family photo, we all look vibrant and happy while he seems annoyed to be with us, because he’s ready to reach his heavenly home.
The peach-colored suit, hat and shoes hearken to mind a time when my professional career was uncertain and I was worried. I missed the sunrise service that year, too, because it was so hard to pull myself out of bed — not because of laziness, but because of a looming feeling that was close to despair.
The year I wore a cream-colored, flowing skirt, jacket and enormous broad-brimmed hat, I said to my family as we gathered for photos, “I have a feeling someone won’t be here next year.”
I was right. That was the last Easter photo for both Mama and my brother.
Of course, there are Easters where my life was completely joyous, optimistic and sound, but I wanted to share these for this reason: Easter is a time that reminds us that hope is eternal and all is possible. Those trials, tribulations and sorrows faded away and were replaced by remarkable opportunities and mountain-top high successes and happiness.
Celebrate Easter for the promise of hope it brings.
Rich is the author of “There’s A Better Day A-Comin.’” Go to www.rondarich.com to sign up for her newsletter.