The Easter morn Gran tried to go to church

June Ray Smith

April 09, 1993|By June Ray Smith

IT'S Easter morning.

Our baskets have been plundered and rearranged over and over again. Foil-covered bunnies are crinkled and crumpled, their brilliant metallic colors worn dim. Easter grass is sprouting all over the house. Threads of it occasionally float freely to the floor. Mother stands ready with the vacuum but decides to let a bit more of the morning pass before she begins to mow through the rooms.

Breakfast is about to be served. It is a must. You can't fire up for the day without fueling the furnace, they always say. I've already had at least a dozen eggs: marshmallow, jelly and a pure white sugar egg topped with a chocolate Easter cross. The thought of a fried egg swimming in grease with its big yellow eye staring up at me, even if it is served on the good china, sends me howling off to my room, holding my stomach.

Gran hears the wailing and comes to her door. She's not really Gran any more, even though she still looks like her. Some days she thinks she's someone else. Some days she thinks we're all someone else.

She's old and can't remember much about anything even if it has just happened. After dinner, she still tries to set the table, and she bangs around in the kitchen at all hours. She wants to go outside late at night in the dead of winter to be sure the hose is rolled up right.

But she can still feel things. I know, because I see her crying a lot. She starts out laughing and ends up crying or vice versa, and then Mother has to put her to bed, the same way she puts us to bed.

I am excused from the breakfast table on this day but reminded that I am expected to eat a good dinner. I will myself not to think of the size of the ham on the sideboard and the endless covered dishes and their sweet or sour contents. The thought of Aunt Anna's sweet potato casserole sends a shiver down my spine.

We'll be leaving for church shortly. We are admonished not even to think about candy now that we are dressed in our finery and ready to go. The sofa seems to be the safest harbor as we wait for Mother to pull up her hair and finish dressing.

We go to church every Sunday, but Gran always asks us where we're going. She can't go with us anymore. She doesn't leave the house now except to visit her doctor. Mother says that even those trips are beginning to take their toll. Dr. Dean said if it got too bad, he'd pay a house call. I guess it's not too bad yet, because they're visiting him again next week. Mother says there must be something he can give Gran to help.

Suddenly there's a lot of commotion upstairs. Mother is yelling for Daddy to get up there right away, just as Gran comes flying down the steps. She's dressed herself in an odd array of clothing. Her housecoat is tied around the waist with a long winter scarf, and she's tried to put on hose, but they have resisted and are pooling around her ankles. On her feet are her good blue slippers, the ones she got when she went to the hospital last fall.

Since she's so forgetful, Mother has taken all of her jewelry and put it away for safe keeping. But Gran has adorned herself nonetheless. She's wearing Granddaddy's 30-year pin from the dairy in one ear and a paper clip on the other.

Her crowning glory is an Easter bonnet made from the cover of an eyelet toss pillow. It frames her determined face as she heads for the coat closet.

Daddy stops her in the hallway and gently turns her toward the stairs. He tells her she looks beautiful and holds her tenderly as he continues to console her, guiding her up each step.

4( Another time, he says, another time.

June Ray Smith writes from Baltimore.

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