Friday, March 29, 2013
First, I can't begin this post without acknowledging that this is Good Friday. I'm sharply aware of the holiness of this day, the enormity of the sacrifice made for us, and the love and service to which it commits us every day. The Alleluia! victory of Easter Sunday owes everything to the terrible grief of the day we remember today.
That said, I want to share my happy memories of Easter, 1954, when I was nine. My father was Portuguese and looked a little like The Godfather. He was very swarthy, had a beautiful beakey nose, and was a foreman in a handbag factory. My mother was French Canadian, a brilliant seamstress who probably could have been a designer had women had more options in her day. But she was happy to raise my older sister and me in a small apartment over a corset and dress shop in downtown New Bedford, Mass.
Across the street from us was a candy store whose window was resplendent with chocolate bunnies, eggs, crosses, and flowers. (This was a predominantly Catholic community, hence the chocolate crosses.) The Portuguese bakery had magnificent mounds of bread with beautifully colored boiled eggs in them, and Marvel's, the bridal shop on the corner, had mannequins in the windows in bridesmaids dresses in pink, blue, yellow, and mint green.
In those days, Easter meant new clothes for the children in the family. I had a 'Shortie' coat that was something like a swing coat would be today. It was powder blue and I wore it over a blue and gray plaid pleated skirt. I had patent leather shoes and purse and a blue wool derby. I felt very chic.
After Mass, we visited relatives - a holiday custom. We had breakfast at Aunt Mamie's, lunch with Aunt Louise and Uncle Joe, and everyone came to our house for ham and the trimmings. I remember feeling happy and secure in our family and loving everything about our very urban neighborhood and our lives in general.
By the following Easter, my sister had joined the Convent, my family was making plans to move to California, and I started my menstrual cycle. Everything in my world dialed up from childhood to preadolescence. Life was happy and good in California, but my sister had her own life now, and I had to learn to act like a lady (very important in those days. Now, happily, we graduate girls to acting like women rather than ladies.)
I promise not to end this with "Good night, John Boy," "Good night, Elizabeth." But I feel the nostalgia of that time like a pain today. After our wonderful blog about love lasting forever, I've thought all day about how much I loved my family and how much I miss them all the time, but some days I want to pound the doors of heaven and demand to see them! And it seems as though you ought to be able to do such a thing on Easter Sunday.
Wish all of you a wonderful holiday!