Thursday, April 12, 2007

Easter Never Revisted, But Anew

Why is life so hell-bent on ensuring we learn some deep knowledge from almost every situation ... ah well, in truth I guess I prefer things that way.

Take this Easter.  Once, it was a huge family affair:  we'd do church-play music-sing like loons-open the champagne-eat till you bust-play more music-nap about 15 minutes-eat again-play more music only louder-polish off the liquor-drop in a contented, loving heap on the living room rug.  And if you missed Easter, woe be on your name!  From Canada they came, and Maine, and Texas - every one of us 8 kids knew that this was Dad's favorite time while the grass was turning a deeper green and the daffodils grew wild everywhere.  The days when terms like "global warming" would've sounded normal.  We had a tremendously beautiful house, the picture is in here somewhere, there was open land wherever you looked and horses walked through the backyards, munching on fresh new grass shoots.  Chicken coops and rabbit hutches.  No fences.  And you always knew what season it was.  In a large family, Holidays tend to be special and Easter topped them all.

So what happened ...? things were happy enough, but the melancholy set in after 1988 when my Father died.  He was the "leader of the band" and he also insisted on doing all the cooking.  My Father was the heart and soul of my family, no matter what part of the world we'd find ourselves.  I loved him.  I wish I'd been a better daughter.

When we tried to carry on the tradition we realized my Mother hadn't the knack or interest, and she invested her Easter into all the Masses she'd sing at.  I was her personal accompanist, as always, whether it was church or opera - I was the only person who understood her method of timing.  It actually doesn't exist, she made it up as she went.  You'd need a fine ear to know when to change chords, etc., so I guess it was her compliment to me.  My Mother's incredible gifted soprano voice brought tears to many, and after mass she'd get many individual accolades.  So that was how she spent her Easters.  The rest of us?  We just stayed where we were, and eventually it became just another day.

Then my Mother died in 2005 of lung cancer after never smoking one cigarette all her life, and something unusual happened.  First, the eldest, Marianne in Toronto, left her high-toned job and Victorian townhouse and cared for my Mom and her house.  She had help whenever possible from brother Chris, who worked long hours in a nursing home but came daily anyway.  Other brothers and sisters who lived down the shore visited often and kept things on the same page.  Mom was bed-ridden for less than 2 months when we decided to call hospice care.  That same week, she died in my sister Linda's arms.  She said, "Okay, I've had enough now."  Linda always felt she could've done something, but when Mom made a decision, the Pope couldn't persuade her differently.  She met Pope JPXX111 and kept a beautiful picture of that meeting.  She also kissed the blarney stone (which she was full of lol) and if you've never seen this done, you have to lie on your back, grab onto a bar, and bend your head backwards to plant your kiss on that rock.  It was the only way.  Upside down.  And that's pretty much how mis-matched my parents were; I plan to make a separate entry for that bit of business.

When Marianne brought her friend of 20 years with her for the death rituals, we got to know him well.  Joe was her fourth husband and she never had children.  This was just her way.  Yet something about having Marianne move back to New Jersey after 40 years away, get married, go about the business of helping Joe become a citizen (still ongoing), it put something in place we were all afraid to touch:  the tradition of Easter.

This was my second Easter at Marianne's, and like last year, she made a perfect leg of lamb, just like Dad.  She made everything from soup to nuts and then some.  A different wine for each dish!  We started with a champagne toast, and giant shrimp, again just like Dad.  Though only 4 out of 8 came, it was only because of logistics and I think my younger sibs, who have children of their own, are trying to start personal, separate traditions.  For that I feel a bit like I've lost something, but I understand and respect whatever they chose to do.  They're all in their 40s, they aren't babies anymore that I hand-fed at the Easter table, who liked to throw their food rather than eat it lol.  I can hear my Father's laughter right now .....

Will this special day become one where we 8 orphans will go to separate corners now, and miss out on what we used to treasure so much?  I know I'm supposed to learn something from all this but all I feel is joy at my own wonderful Easter, and hurt confusion (yes, maybe resentment too) that half the family didn't make the same effort to be together the way we used to.  Does getting older mean you have to put your favorite most treasured traditions away? 

Maybe all we need is time. 

 

 

12 comments:

yenrrabeep said...

no getting older means u invest the time and love in your own and plan a new and wonderful family tradition.  lucky you that has the big loving family around you.

treesrgreen78 said...

It is heartening to know Mary Ann and your other siblings and yourself were able to bring back some of the traditions that your family cherished.  While all could not be there, four of you were and that is precious.  Many families, after the death of their parents, part and many never see each other again.  Being able to share many memories and traditions with four of your siblings is great, while I am sure your other siblings while making new memories and traditions with their families, in heart were with you on Easter Sunday as well.  My Easter was spent with one sister and my son whom I still see.  My other siblings I have not seen for many years and probably never will again.  It just happens that way sometimes.   Still though I am blessed with one family member and we made a new tradition that day.  Traditions come from past traditions, just a little changed.  You my friend and your siblings made some new traditions at Easter but still held on to many from the cherished days you had all your family together.  God bless.  Your cup is still half full.

madcobug said...

I think as people get their own families then they tend to let their brothers and sister come second in their lives. Kind of like what my brother and I did when our parents both died. He has his family and I have mine now so if we see each other it is just a short visit. I do miss those get togethers at Christmas with all our families together though. I never get to see my nephew or his daughter or her two children. Helen

pharmolo said...

Cathy,
Times change, as do people. When a pivotal figure falls away, their relationships alter. Oh Fortuna....

gehi6 said...

Very nice entry on your family Easter tradition  I enjoyed hearing how one family did it, when Dad was alive.  Your dad sounds like quite a character.  I am going to read some more!  Gerry

princesssaurora said...

I think you have to speak to your other siblings and let them know how much this particular holiday means to you and Marianne and hopefully, they will be there from now on.  Often... that is all that needs to be done!

A beautiful entry... and i am so glad you had a lovely Easter!!

be well,
Dawn
http://journals.aol.com/princesssaurora/CarpeDiem/

valphish said...

Hi my Cateri =).  I'm glad half of the family came together, hon.  Holidays can be so hard.  My family hardly celelbrates them.  My parents don't at all really.  Since my children left when they were small, well, holidays have been pretty painful.  I am trying to make them special again.  I am so glad Chelsea is living in town with me now.  I plan on starting up some traditions again.  I think they are important.  It sounds like you do really have some very special ones.  Love you, my Cateri! xox
http://journals.aol.com/valphish/ThereisaSeason

merry1621 said...

I loved this entry and I have my own thoughts I'd like to tell you another time.  And I will.  But things just aren't like they use to be. But maybe it's because WE aren't like we use to be.  Families have changed, too.  Cathy, you are smart and so deep.  Loved reading this.  Merry

bhbner2him said...

After Mom died and her sisters started dieing off Easter became a holiday for individual families on my side.  With the death of Pete's parents, pretty much the same on his side.  So Easter is us and the church family.  -  Barbara

queenb8261 said...

I grew up in KS. DH in TX. We tried to keep the traditions by alternating in both states. Then in 1989 Mom died. She was the glue of our family traditions. Having one brother whose wife hated our father, I'm sure she danced the day he died as they could sever all ties with me & my family and all the traditions could be carried out with her family. Isn't that special. I'm so glad half your sibs got together. Dynamics change. Not much can be done about that.
Love ya, Barb

mutualaide said...

Our family holiday celebrations have morphed and morphed again.  We now spend most of our holidays with my sister-in-law and her family and only occasionally with my sister.  It's about distance and work schedules and effort.  I am truly grateful to have any family to spend holiday time with -- but there are times when I miss those big family getogethers!

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