Happy Easter, Happy Spring, Happy Happy EVERYTHING!

I spent a fair amount of my childhood at our breakfast room table handwriting cards for my mother.  I wrote the invitations for two of my sisters’ weddings and addressed every envelope.  My mother would have multiple copies of favorite photos made so that we could create greeting cards.  She poured herself a cup of coffee and settled beside me, browsing through her address book and directing the careful loops of my Catholic elementary school penmanship.

One year she used a Halloween photograph of my two little brothers as our Easter card.  I long for a copy of it.  Frank and Steve sat behind a pumpkin, scooping its guts and chiseling a Jack O’Lantern face.  They each held a glob of seeds high above their heads, huge grins on their faces.  Under the photograph, I carefully inked, Happy Easter, Happy Spring.  When you opened the card, you found these words:  Happy, Happy EVERYTHING!   

That memory still delights me.

I tried to replicate my mother’s traditions in my son’s childhood.  We colored eggs, hid baskets, and invited our friends to dine.  I bought Russell Stover bonbons and malted milk balls in pastel colors.  Peeps nestled in green plastic grass.  As I sit in my tiny house writing, I remember carefully packing our Easter baskets when I downsized, but I can’t tell you now where they might be.  Perhaps they got lost in the move.  

As a recovering Catholic I do not celebrate Easter except as a day of new life and joyfulness.  Three thousand miles from family, I had no breakfast invitations nor did I sit at a table laden with ham, potatoes, and Jello salad.  I spent the day in my little shop, where I saw no customers until after 1:00 p.m.  The church folks and the brunch-goers drifted down Main Street.  In the quiet hours before they began to arrive, I called my son and cruised the internet.  When I finally closed the store after a busy afternoon, I drove home with the news playing in the car.   At the red light, I watched the weekend vacationers pull their trailers through the intersection headed back to the city.  They smiled through their dusty windshields.  I envied them.

Though I didn’t have an Easter basket or a corsage pinned to my dress, my friend Michelle did stop by with flowers.  My son sent a little clip about an Easter egg hunt where a boy found a plastic egg leftover from a prior year.  When I came home, I dug out a souvenir of his boyhood, a carefully painted plastic egg that seemed important enough to rescue from the frantic purge of home goods.  I studied it, seeing the intentness on his face as he drew each squiggle.

One Easter Sunday, my son Patrick and his two best friends, Chris Taggart and Maher Sagrillo, hunted eggs while the adults watched from the porch.  In the middle of their lively search, Maher’s father called from a faraway city, concerned that his Muslim son might be engaging in a Christian practice.  Maher settled on the front porch steps, disappointed but wanting to respect his father’s wishes.  As the hunt progressed, Chris and Patrick occasionally darted back to slip an egg into Maher’s basket.  The rest of us, included Maher’s Beirut-born mother, considered their spontaneous kindness to be an acceptable compromise.  

Now I sit in the gathering night, once again filling the silence with rambling news accounts of the day’s events.  Most of it drifts around me unnoticed.  Instead  I close my eyes and picture my mother sipping from her green Melmac cup, the very cup from which, some fifty years later, I serve myself cold water.  She did not share her thoughts with me, but once in a while, I raised my eyes to meet hers.  She’d give me a gentle smile.  Reassured, I would return to my work, tightly gripping the pen, making card after card.  Eventually, I finished them all.  I sealed each envelope, applied the stamps, and together my mother and I walked them to the mailbox.  Off they would go in the morning, bearing meticulously inscribed best wishes for happiness, from the Corley Family, with love.

It’s the thirty-first day of the one-hundred and twenty-third month of My Year Without Complaining. Life continues.


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