It is each of the many Easters of my life that I remember more clearly than any other holiday.
Christmases blur together with only a few standing out in my memory such as the one when it snowed all day, the year I lost my voice completely, and the two times that I wasn’t home – one working in Washington, D.C., and another in London.
My birthdays, Thanksgivings, Halloweens, and summer holidays are hard to recall specifically. My husband proposed on my birthday so that one certainly stands out, and one birthday, Mama helped me take down my Christmas tree. Since it was Jan. 20, you can imagine how dead that tree was and what a mess it made.
Easters, though? I remember them all. If there is a day that is a touchstone for each year of my life, it is Easter.
Of course, our family celebrates it for the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. However, while it would be admirable, even noble, if I remembered specific Easters for the sermons, I cannot, since it is pretty much the identical sermon, and the songs rarely vary.
Normally, the weather leaves little reason to remember it because it can range from rain to cold to gorgeous. But I will never forget the last time that Easter came on the fourth Sunday in April – the latest it can come since Easter falls on the Sunday following the first full moon AFTER spring begins.
We were already deep into the throes of spring. Flowers were gorgeous, gardenias were fragrant, trees abundant in greenery, hydrangeas blossoming. We were prepared for the most beautiful of days but awoke to find that a rare, deep freeze had killed everything. We were stunned.
At lunch, we discussed it. Would the flowers and leaves return or was it too late? No one knew the answer because no one had seen it happen before. (For the record: by late June, the trees had leafed up again and some flowers were hearty enough to re-bloom.)
That’s a rare Easter to remember for reasons other than what makes each distinctive to me. It is the parade of Easter suits, dresses and hats that I have worn over the years that ground me to a specific Easter. When I look at the photos or videos of our family’s Easter parade, I remember so clearly that moment in time. I recall the sorrows or joys of that season of my life and all that was happening.
The bright green-colored suit and matching hat from well over a decade ago remind me of the heartbreak of watching Daddy’s decline, and how feeble he was that last Easter when he grumbled, as usual, about the Easter parade. In the family photo, we all look vibrant and happy while he seems annoyed to be with us because he’s ready to reach his heavenly home.
The peach-colored suit, hat and shoes hearken to mind a time when my professional career was uncertain and I was worried. I missed sunrise service that year, too, because it was so hard to pull myself out of bed – not because of laziness but a feeling that loomed close to despair.
The year I wore the cream-colored, flowing skirt, jacket and enormous broad-brimmed hat was when I said to the family as we gathered for photos, “I have a feeling someone won’t be here next year.”
I was right. That was the last Easter photo for both Mama and my brother.
Of course there are Easters where my life was completely joyous, optimistic, and sound, but I wanted to share these for this reason: Easter is the time that reminds us that hope is eternal and all is possible. Those trials, tribulations, and sorrows faded away and were replaced by remarkable opportunities and mountain top high successes and happiness.
Celebrate Easter for the promise of hope it brings.
[Ronda Rich is the best-selling author of “There’s A Better Day A-Comin’.” Visit www.rondarich.com to sign up for her weekly newsletter.]