Easter at Eleven
Raindrops, a yellow tulip, a white carnation and a new blazer.
I was eleven-years-old on that Easter Sunday – all those years ago. I remember it all so well. My mom had died the autumn previous and I felt rather alone in the world – although I shouldn’t have. My grandparents, as distraught as they were, became, in many ways, my parents.
I suppose, looking back, I can now label my grandparents as traditionalists. They had deeply entrenched traditional values and they practice them and held them up to high importance. Back then I didn’t label them anything – they were my grandparents – they were the lighthouses that guided me though a dark and stormy time in my childhood.
Because my grandparents held traditions in high regard, Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday were very special occasions. And so they were to me when I was a child. I can remember going to church on Palm Sunday and each person upon entering the church was given palm fronds. And if I close my eyes, I can smell the Easter Lilies and see the churchgoers waving their palm fronds. I can hear the congregation and the choir singing “The Old Rugged Cross”. I can remember singing along.
It seems like yesterday and it seems like a lifetime ago.
To my grandparents, especially my grandmother, Palm Sunday was almost as important as Easter Sunday. My Grandma regaled me with the Biblical story of Jesus entering Jerusalem riding on a donkey. He entered Jerusalem in celebration. But all during the joyous day of celebrating, hate and betrayal were festering in the city’s heart, and that hate would lead Jesus to be bruised, beaten and gasping and he dragged the cross along the Via Dolorosa or the “Way of Grief” or the “Way of Sorrow”.
Good Friday was another day and another tradition my grandparents held dear. When I was child, Good Friday was a day when everything closed between 12:00PM and 3:00PM. These were the hours during which. the church told us, that Jesus hanged upon the cross spending his last few tortured hours upon this Earth. I remember restaurants were closed, stores were closed, and if you worked, you didn’t work between 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM.
I will never forget the quiet that enveloped my world between 12:00 PM and 3:00 PM on Good Friday. The only thing I have ever experienced that even comes close to that silence was the day after 9/11 when the world seemed to stand still.
When I was in grade school, Good Friday always occurred during Easter vacation. It wasn’t spring break back then, it was Easter vacation. The world changed and suddenly Easter and Christmas were words you couldn’t use anymore – at least not in the same breath with schools or government. I’m not saying that is bad or good, I am just saying things changed. Someone let them change. I don’t think the world is any better for it.
I am eleven years old. It is a misty, cool Easter Sunday morning. Gloomy really. My grandparents bought me a new blazer to wear to church and I’m wearing it, although it seems too big for me. My grandmother went to the florist shop yesterday and bought me a white carnation for my blazer’s lapel. I can smell it without even putting my nose down to it.
I am ready for church before my grandparents are and I walk outside into the cool and gloomy morning. I am a little bit sad that I didn’t hunt for Easter eggs this morning – I guess I’m too old for that. My grandmother did put together an Easter basket for me though – it has a big white chocolate rabbit in it. I wish my mom could be with me this Easter. I am having a hard time accepting that she’s never going to come back.
My shoes are new and shiny, and I can see raindrops on them. It’s not raining really, it’s more of a light drizzle that comes and goes. I guess it’s the sky crying my tears for me. I’m too big to cry now.
I notice that for the first time this spring that the tulips are blooming, but just the yellow ones. The red and white ones are not yet ready. Easter rarely comes in March, but this year is the exception. The tulips just can’t be hurried. The yellow ones must grow up faster than the other colors.
I am eleven-years-old. I am standing on the porch of my grandparent’s home, ready for church on this strange and sad Easter Sunday morning. I have on a new blazer that my grandmother bought for me and I think it is too big for me. I am wearing a white carnation that smells nice. I am all dressed up and it’s Easter Sunday.
I will never forget that Easter. I will never forget the raindrops on my new shiny shoes. I will never forget the too-big blazer, the white carnation or the bright yellow tulips.
I’ve never had an Easter like that again. The world sure got busy and full of itself. No one has time anymore. I don’t know which world is better, but my heart yearns to tell me what I already know… the memories I made are all that I have left of the world as it was.
I wonder if moms and dads and grandfathers and grandmothers know just how important it is to make special memories with their children and grandchildren. Memories are the only gifts we can give our kids and grandkids that will never tarnish or rust away.
Easter is a great time for traditions and memories. Start a tradition. Make some memories.