Sunday, April 12, 2009

A Blessed Easter at Woodsong

After a leisurely breakfast with the newspaper, we went to our village church to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus.

Our three little ones in our preschool classroom looked adorable. Wearing pink with ruffles and lace, Miranda explained, “Grandma made my dress.” When Miss Kim took pictures, we knew we were not the first to admire these children today, because one-year-old Caleb without prompting posed and said clearly, “Cheese!” Bobby, looking sharp in dress pants and matching vest, was all excited that Grandpa was coming to dinner. The Easter card he made was to be for his daddy and grandpa.

In the service after Bible study, many had visiting family members with them to worship as a family on this special day. Our oldest member, Zella Cain had family members filling two entire rows. And that was only half of her family, she told us. We sang, “Up From the Grave He Arose” and other traditional hymns. Deanna Odom had a special reading for us, and we sang “Happy Birthday” to Dewayne Covey, who had been looking forward to this tradition, and he had visiting cousins and aunts and uncles there to participate.

Our beloved interim pastor had a second sermon prepared—he and several had gathered earlier at the church for the sunrise service and breakfast that Gerald and I seldom make. In the early years, I would have been out on the lawn hiding eggs and candies in our children’s nests they made on Saturday—just the way my mother was taught to do as a child. Then when our children took over the nest filling for their children, I would be in the kitchen preparing the ham and lunch for the bunch when we came home from church.

Today was different. For the first time in our 52 years of marriage, I did not dye Easter eggs. For the first time in decades, I did not cook Easter dinner. For the first time in several years, most of our children and grandchildren could not be with us. Yet it has been a special and blessed Easter.

We arrived back in Marion last evening from our trip to visit daughter Jeannie’s family and see Elijah and Cecelie participate in the 29th annual Showtime at Freeport High School. Before we refilled the gas tank and I ran inside Kroger’s to get fresh fruit and milk, Katherine phoned and said, “Mom, David has arranged to pick up a prepared Easter dinner for all of us, and we will bring it out to the farm tomorrow. There will be plenty for Mary Ellen’s family too if they are able to make it.”

We took Samuel on home as he was eager to check out the Easter egg doings at Josh’s house—his buddy just behind the park and their house. Sam carried in a large portion of the colored eggs that he had helped dye at the Eiler house and his Aunt Jeannie had sent home with him. So they became part of our dinner today.

He even was invited to participate in the dyeing session going on at my brother’s home when we stopped at Mattoon for a break. Jim’s wife Vivian, who always remembered her grandmother’s huge dishpan full of colored eggs for her many grandchildren, has always tried to approach that sense of bounty for her kids and grandkids. She and her sister Jo, who had arrived from Chicago by train the day before, were laughing and working with a dozen of so cups of color on the large dining table and assisted by my niece Judi getting ready for the egg hunt at their house today. When Sam unobtrusively took a wax crayon from the kit and put a star on an egg, his mother’s cousin Judi had a moment of wonder and confusion when she took a green egg out and unexpectedly saw a star on it.

So after we dropped Sam off at his house, we returned to shop for the few needed items. With the delightful surprise and neat gift for the next day arranged by our son-in-law, I did not even think about what I might need to buy to go with the little half ham I had stowed in the fridge for Katherine’s family and also Mary Ellen’s family if they were able to come down from Lake Saint Louis. I knew Easter dinner would be scant in comparison to some past feasts, but I also knew my children would understand.

David works extraordinary hours already both at the plant and at home helping care for Katherine and Sam, and that he would go to the work and trouble to arrange to bring an entire holiday dinner out to the farm was very touching—and absolutely lovely. When I phoned her an invitation, we found out that Mary Ellen’s family had gone to Springfield—she had known we might not even get back from Freeport for Easter.

So I took the usual leaves out of the dining room table. With Sam’s friend Josh added as a guest, we had six present. Thus, I was able to use the white china with pink roses that I bought long ago at the thrift store when our family had only six members, and the light green cloth that usually only fits the kitchen table. The green stemmed glasses (also from the thrift store) made a pretty table with lilacs and white tulips for the centerpiece.

While the men talked and rested, Katherine and I looked at photo books and enjoyed seeing Tara, Erin, and Leslie as tiny ones. Sam and Josh went looking for minnows and rode the “mule” and played with Scooter and whatever boys do outside.

All too soon the Cedars had to go back home, and Gerald and I were alone again at Woodsong after the flurry of weekend activity. We enjoyed ham sandwiches and reflecting on the day.

We knew from Facebook that Leslie, who’d been in Freeport for the weekend, had succeeded in getting her first car yesterday and was driving it back to Belmont. Tomorrow she finds out about her summer job. Gerry had been off work from recruiting and had been able to go to church with Vickie and Geri Ann at Athens. Like Gerald, I am sure they were in touch with Erin down at College Station and with Tara’s family in northern Illinois, who celebrated with Bryan’s family this weekend. We were still enjoying Gerry’s proud accounts of Erin’s winning home run on Friday and A&M’s second victory against Texas Tech yesterday. And the Georgia Dogs won all three games against Ole Miss this weekend despite rainy weather and lightning delays.

We know that softball is fun and despite its importance to our family, it is not that important in the grand scheme of things. We know that every one of our family members have challenges and concerns—some of which cause us to live life with broken hearts. We know that many good people are out of work in our state, and they didn’t sit down to ham and all the good food that David carried in. We remembered the poignant presentation of world hunger that we saw at Freeport’s Showtime. We know that they are still pirates and thugs and terrorists in the world despite our rejoicing at the captain’s release. We are grateful for a living God who is willing to help us through the struggles here on earth.

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