easter, comes the resurrection

Ten years ago this Easter my mother was in a secured memory care unit of the Atria Westchase assisted living complex in Houston, Texas. Pretty and I had just bought a second home in Montgomery, Texas so I could be closer to Mom as her dementia progressed. On that Easter Sunday in 2010 I arrived in time for a chapel service before lunch with my mom.  After lunch, well, here’s what happened…

The traditional Easter egg hunt came to us mid-afternoon through the children of the staff members. The day was beautiful, and the fenced courtyard area was the perfect setting for a party. Those in our lunch group pushed their walkers or were wheeled outside into the bright sunlight, those who could sat in the Adirondack chairs under the portico. I met three other daughters who were visiting their mothers that day which made me glad I was there with my mother, too.

The Latino women who were the caregivers for the memory care unit brought their children to enjoy the search for the pastel colored plastic eggs filled with candy in the tranquil setting of the facility’s outdoors. Eggs were hidden everywhere, including on and around the residents.  Jim, a tall, sad, unshaven man who never spoke and struggled to move opened the chocolate egg Rosa placed in his shirt pocket; he ate the candy before the kids arrived. No one tried to stop him including my mother who in days of yore would have surely reprimanded him in her best elementary school teacher tone.

The small group of children burst into the courtyard with an exuberance all youngsters bring to filling an Easter basket. Ages ranged from four to twelve, with one six-month-old baby girl held by her mother. They were dressed in their Sunday best. Little boys wore ties with their jackets, little girls wore pretty spring dresses. It could’ve been a movie set, I thought, because they were strikingly beautiful shildren. They flew around grabbing eggs with gusto as their baskets filled quickly. They were noisy, laughing, talking – incredibly alive.

It was the resurrection. For a few brief minutes, the stones were rolled away from the minds buried deep in the tombs of the bodies that kept them hidden. The children raced around the residents searching for treasures, exclaiming with delight when one was discovered. One little boy overlooked a blue egg under a wheel chair, and my mother tapped his shoulder to point it out to him. He was elated and flashed a brilliant smile at her. She responded with a look of pure delight. The smiles and the murmurings of the elderly were clear signs of their obvious joy that proclaimed the reality of Easter in those moments.  Hallelujah. We were all risen.

Memories were made and lost that afternoon. The children who came to the place where their mothers worked to find eggs among the old people were unlikely to forget this day.  Years from now some will tell the stories of the Easter Egg Hunt with the Ancient Ones.  The stories will be as different as their own journeys will take them.  For my mother and her friends, no stories will be told because they won’t remember. My mother doesn’t know I was there for her on Easter this year which is not unexpected.  But I remember I was, and it is enough for both of us.

I was born on another Easter Sunday morning in April 1946, and that makes the year 2010 my sixty-fourth Easter. I recollect a few of the earliest Easters from my childhood: sacred religious days for my loving Southern Baptist family who rarely missed a worship service on any Sunday of the year but never at Christmas or Easter. I also remember having a hard time finding eggs in the church hunts. My baskets never runneth over. But to be honest, in recent years Easter Sundays had been difficult to distinguish from any other day of the week.

When I moved away from my family in Texas in my early twenties to explore my sexual identity, I didn’t know I’d be gone for forty years. I also had no way of knowing one of the costs of my freedom from family togetherness was my absence from family rituals.  Distance, travel time, money, job obligations, girlfriends—these were the obstacles I had to overcome for visits home. Or maybe they were just excuses. I usually made the trip home at Christmas and less frequently one more time in the summer. But never for Easter.

This Easter was special for me because it was a day with no excuses necessary. I shared a Sunday sundae with my mother for lunch today at a table neither of us could have envisioned a few years before. Today was just the two of us, and if there were barriers between us that once seemed too impenetrable, they were now lost in the cobwebs of time.

We were all risen, indeed.

Stay tuned.

(This is an excerpt from my third book, I’ll Call It Like I See It.)

About Sheila Morris

Sheila Morris is a personal historian, essayist with humorist tendencies, lesbian activist, truth seeker and speaker in the tradition of other female Texas storytellers including her paternal grandmother. In December, 2017, the University of South Carolina Press published her collection of first-person accounts of a few of the people primarily responsible for the development of LGBTQ organizations in South Carolina. Southern Perspectives on the Queer Movement: Committed to Home will resonate with everyone interested in LGBTQ history in the South during the tumultuous times from the AIDS pandemic to marriage equality. She has published five nonfiction books including two memoirs, an essay compilation and two collections of her favorite blogs from I'll Call It Like I See It. Her first book, Deep in the Heart: A Memoir of Love and Longing received a Golden Crown Literary Society Award in 2008. Her writings have been included in various anthologies - most recently the 2017 Saints and Sinners Literary Magazine. Her latest book, Four Ticket Ride, was released in January, 2019. She is a displaced Texan living in South Carolina with her wife Teresa Williams and their dogs Spike, Charly and Carl. She is also Naynay to her two granddaughters Ella and Molly James who light up her life for real. Born in rural Grimes County, Texas in 1946 her Texas roots still run wide and deep.
This entry was posted in Lesbian Literary, Life, Personal, racism, Reflections, Slice of Life, The Way Life Is and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to easter, comes the resurrection

  1. That must have been a special moment.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wayside Artist says:

    Every Spring, every Easter we are all made anew, nodding like daffodils glowing in the sun. Perhaps for the Ancient Ones that is enough? Happy Easter!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. milford516 says:

    Beautiful Sheila.Whatever it cost you to be there that day was a pittance compared to the solid gold memories you made that day..One can only hope that one day baby Ella will remember a wobbly old lady hiding eggs for her. PEACE OF THE LORD BE WITH YOU.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Susanne says:

    You tell a difficult story with love and compassion and you made me feel these things along with you.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Luanne says:

    What a unique and vivid memory. A holiday and a tradition without any family baggage. I guess our holidays will all be different this year, too. We were to share the gardener’s 65th, my future SIL’s parents’ anniversary, Easter, and Passover as an extended family. Now not so much. And the “in laws” are stuck in Jersey.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Gosh, Luanne, I am so sorry about your family’s situation this year. It is totally unfair and totally awful. I was thinking today of my version of Humpty Dumpty – will anyone ever be able to put all of us together again? Please tell the gardener I send birthday greetings (we share this month) and your daughter that I am sympathizing with her and would, with respect, call this a cluster**** for a wedding year. Make your own kind of music.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Luanne says:

        I will tell daughter. I’m sure she would agree with you! And I will tell the gardener! Are you an Aries? Both my grandmothers were born in April, too–April 3 and April 17. I hope we can recreate the world anew afterward, but for my aging body I hope it is done in patches a bit. Too much change is, you know, too much change haha!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely, Luanne!! Too much change all at once is, well, too much change all at once.
        Actually, I’m a Taurus – April 21.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Luanne says:

        Yes, you seem more like a Taurus. But you are pretty close to Aries so you must have a few borderline Aries traits ;).

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Heather Hartt says:

    What a beautiful memory of a beautiful day!

    Liked by 1 person

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