When Mom was a child, their family went on a picnic by a river near their home. Grandpa K , Mom, and her sisters went splashing in the river while Grandma sat in the shade, mending some clothes. (Mom always laughed at that memory; Grandma always doing something constructive, even while relaxing on a family outing.)

Grandpa thought he’d play a trick on the girls.  He dove under the water and swam downstream. His daughters, not seeing him come up after he went under, thought he had drowned and began screaming and crying, hysterical at the thought of losing their Dad.  When he surfaced farther downstream from them, laughing, the girls’ screaming and crying became even louder, and Grandma chastised him for scaring them.  Ever since then, Mom has had a water phobia.

Fast forward to about 25 years ago. Mom and Dad were visiting out at the ranch. It was a hot summer day, and we didn’t have air conditioning, and Mom was really uncomfortable inside the house, and outside was even hotter. I set up the sprinkler on the south lawn, and suggested we run through it…like kids.
Oh, no, she couldn’t do that! She had NEVER run through the sprinkler. Mom has a deep-seated fear of getting her head wet; she nearly panics when she washes her hair, and never gone swimming since Grandpa’s innocent prank at the family picnic.

I told her, aw, c’mon, you don’t have to get your head wet, just your legs, that’ll cool you off. I was wearing shorts and a tank top, mom was in a dress and apron. I ran through first, then urged her on. At first she just stuck her toes into the water, then walked around the sprinkler, then straight through the water, getting her legs and the hem of her dress wet. She started squealing, then lifted her dress up above her knees and danced around in the water, laughing, until she was drenched, from head to toe. It was hilarious!
I wish I could have had a picture of it. We sat out on towel covered lawn chairs in the sun to dry off, Mom all the time saying how refreshing it was and was she ever glad Dad wasn’t there to see her. (The men were out checking windmills a mile or so away). It made me happy to see her “let her hair down”, dancing like a kid, not even worrying about her head getting wet.

Mom still hates to have her head wet, still panics when she goes to a beautician for her monthly shampoo-cut-and style.  But for a few moments, she  had lost her inhibitions and forgot her fears as the cold water from the sprinkler sprayed over her and cooled her.  It was a day I will never forget.

In Your Easter Vomit…

Yesterday was Easter Sunday.  Dr K and I celebrated by driving by a church on our way to the supermarket.  With no small children (or any children, for that matter) in the house, and a unilateral decision to forego attending church service, Easter Sunday has become, well, just another Sunday.

As a child, it was a completely different matter.  During Lent, that eternity before Easter Sunday when we were required to “give up” an earthly pleasure (usually candy, although we rarely GOT candy any time of the year, let alone during lent, thus making it an easy sacrifice), we were constantly reminded of the suffering and death and resurrection of Christ.  Smudges of ash rubbed into our foreheads on Ash Wednesday, rosaries prayed every night, dried palm branches burned while going through the Stations of the Cross (the smoke taking our prayers to heaven, so our mother said, although we just liked the idea of parental consent to lighting something on fire), and fasting on Fridays.  

Good Friday meant going to church, where all the statues of  the saints and the Holy Family were shrouded in purple and everyone somberly striking their breasts, chanting “Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa”.

Easter Saturday was dress rehearsal, so to speak.  Mom would bring out the hand-me-down Easter dresses and white shoes, having us girls try on the older’s last year’s get up to see if she could get by without buying anything new. This usually worked until we became adolescents and the different growth spurts called for new dresses, all around. We “Little Kids” always had to go to bed early on Saturday night.  It wasn’t until I was 8 or 9 did I find out that the “Big Kids” got to dye eggs and hide them around the house after we had gone to sleep.  Getting up on Easter morning,  almost as early as on Christmas, we would find our cereal bowls ringing the dining room table, filled with green “Grass”, jelly beans, and those goddawful hard sugar eggs filled with soft sugar creme.  I don’t recall any chocolates, let alone real Easter baskets. We would stuff ourselves with candy, hunt Easter eggs, then dress for church.  It was inevitable; at least one of us would suffer the consequences of eating a breakfast of sugary goodness, and vomit in church.

When my own daughters were wee girls, Easter meant Sunrise Services at our local church. Stumbling out of bed at 5 am, rushing through egg hunts and candy overloading, we would arrive at church at 6 am, bleary-eyed but dressed in our Easter best.  Again, some child (sometimes my own), somewhere in church, had eaten a basket load of candy and puked it up, usually during the sermon.  That child would also be the first one in line for Easter Breakfast; ham, eggs, pancakes, coffee and juice, served in the church basement following services.

I miss those simpler, less commercialized Easters.  Driving down the street, I watched people walk into church, men and little boys dressed in suits, women dressed in pastels, and girls in frilly dresses and white anklets and shoes. Some even wearing an “easter bonnet”. I know that many of them were planning an Easter breakfast or brunch afterwards with family, celebrating not only the death and resurrection of Christ but also the unofficial first day of spring.  The air is lighter, the sky brighter, and tulips and daffodils blooming…I miss that.  But I don’t miss the bleary-eyed early rising and traditional Easter vomit.