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An Easter we won’t soon forget...

Kathleen McQuillan
Posted 4/15/20

It was an Easter Sunday like no other I can recall. Another morning with cold gray skies but a forecast predicting “a nice day in the Northland”. When the sun gets high enough to warm …

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An Easter we won’t soon forget...

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It was an Easter Sunday like no other I can recall. Another morning with cold gray skies but a forecast predicting “a nice day in the Northland”. When the sun gets high enough to warm things up even a little, the pleasure is indescribable! Everything feels more manageable, despite COVID-19 and almost total isolation.
Have you noticed the featured stories about what we’re doing to keep busy when we’re really limited with what we can do? One fellow this morning in a radio interview talked about dyeing his hair. I wondered what color? And a woman described walking her cat. “Yes”, she repeated, “my cat!” I must say, now three weeks into the stay-at-home order, I’ve yet to go off the deep end.
One day recently, a message came from the universe, “Start sorting through all those family photos. The ones you’ve stuffed in sacks for years, after you got too busy or bored with making photo albums.” The stacks of sacks had gotten a little daunting for me — until this moment of inspiration, or should I say desperation? Whatever. I grabbed a bag and dug in.
The really old ones were easy. It appeared that Mom had done some serious culling before she died. I did find a few “doubles” and some that were meaningful to her but far too blurry for me to appreciate. I then dove into the bag labeled “Kathy’s Childhood”, mostly black and white, chock full of memories. With Easter just a few days away, I took special interest in “Easter Sundays Past”. There we were, my grade school self and siblings, in cute little outfits, poised obediently for the camera before being herded into the car for Mass. My sister and I wore white cotton gloves, straw bonnets with little fake flowers tucked in the hatbands and patent leather “t-straps”. My brother was in his crisp white shirt, a tie and dress shoes. We each had an Easter basket but they were empty. I remember we’d hunted for eggs that morning but the Easter Bunny hadn’t come. I wonder how my mom had forced those stiff smiles we wore.
I was raised in a traditional Irish-Catholic family where the emphasis was more about Good Friday than Easter. Maybe out of my early adulthood spirit of rebellion, I vowed to make every holiday special when I had kids. And so I tried!
A tradition that developed in my young family was the annual “Coloring of the Eggs”! My best friend, Steph, would show up with all the necessary tools of the artist’s trade to create the most extraordinary eggs imaginable. An artist I am not, but “Auntie Steph”, having no children of her own, indulged mine in extremes of color and design. My sons loved it! Their bag of childhood photos included many years of them proudly displaying their Easter baskets brimming with wildly colored hardboiled eggs! One photo vividly captured the memorable Easter of 1996. There were Corey, Nick and Steph, each with Easter baskets in hand, standing in front of a six-foot snowbank! Spring came late that year.
Easter 2020 will be another unforgettable year. When worship services were televised, Skyped or Zoomed. When we couldn’t gather to celebrate holidays or other special occasions in the effort to dodge “the Virus”. With familiar traditions cancelled, new ways of honoring would be devised. This year, instead of preparing for a family feast, I got a sudden urge to make Easter cards for other people’s youngsters who I carry close to my heart — grand-nieces and nephews, my grandson and his younger siblings sprinkled across the midwest. Out came my markers, a pad of construction paper and a bunch of doodads perfect for adding pizzazz. I cut and glued images of bunnies and chicks retrieved from recycled greeting cards until I had to halt my creative impulses and make sure I got everything mailed in time!
Easter morning began with coffee and the newspaper, nothing too out of the ordinary. Then I started thinking of family, especially my sons. It was much too early to call them so I began readying for my day. The phone rang. It was Steph! Bless her heart! She too was reminiscing about Easters past. We laughed over antics, including the Funniest Egg Contests, before we shifted gears to the present. She told me about this week’s mind-bending crossword puzzle where the clue read, “A five-letter word associated with Easter”. She’d mulled it over for the longest time, her brain insisting it had to be “bunny” but she couldn’t work that in. And just as she concluded that the puzzle maker must have made a mistake, it suddenly came to her! “Kath, you will never guess.” She gave me a second to ponder, then burst out, “The word was Jesus!” For many readers, that might elicit a “Dah!”
I then told her my “bunny” story. A wild rabbit, for weeks, had been paying me daily visits. I named her “Dinah”, like the pet rabbit Stephanie had given Corey for his seventh birthday. “Ohhh,” she said. “That’s sweet.” “But there’s more,” I interrupted. “I found Dinah impaled on the fence yesterday where she’d tried to get into the garden! I was so upset when I found her.” “Oh!” Steph responded in shocked sympathy. “That’s too bad!” “But, there’s more,” I continued. “Today, I spotted her identical twin at my front door! He just showed up out of nowhere!” “Oh, Kath!” she exclaimed. “You could call him Jesus!” Please, forgive me if I’m seeming irreverent but I couldn’t hold back my laughter. On this particular Easter morning, humor was a healing balm.
Easter is a special holiday, with its story hailing hope, of rising from suffering and coming out triumphant on the other side. It’s not to be lost on us as we move through these difficult times, longing to roll back this rock and see a miracle. Let’s hope it’s the vaccine for COVID-19!




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