Friday, April 14, 2017

The Eggs and I

I love Easter.

It invokes wonderful memories of family gatherings that can never be duplicated. All my loved ones have passed on and the ones less loved have scattered to the winds. But, for decades before they leave, we enjoy Easter Sunday with food, lawn games, board games, flower picking, egg hunting, cooking and sleeping under the stars (weather permitting).

This time of year, their absence hurts the most. 

Until she dies at age 98, my Grandmother is the glue that makes Easter incredible fun and the reason we all gather. She bestows Easter baskets with REAL chocolate and jelly beans. She prepares a feast of baked ham, fried chicken, creamed spinach, fresh corn and string beans, kidney bean salad with slivered onions and vinegary delishness, and my favorite: the Best Freaking Potato Salad in the World. For 25 years, I've searched everywhere for something approximating her recipes, but no matter the source, Austrian/German pedigree and my efforts, the dishes never come close. 

In the early 70's we have Easter egg hunts on my Grandmother's enormous flower filled yard and sometimes the eggs contain real silver coins. Faded Polaroids show me in pigtails and fancy pastel dresses, tiny lacy trimmed socks and shiny Mary Janes, my father in Cuban shirts with perfectly quaffed hair, my mother, cigarette dangling from her ruby lips, resembling a brunette Jane Mansfield in full glamour mode with black stiletto heels and cocktail dress, my grandmother in a simple house dress. All of us are tan from the Florida sun - this was well before melanoma scares and sunscreen and we spend every weekend on the beach. There are a few showing the table groaning under the Easter Feast - I forgot to mention the ceiling scraping layer cakes, sporting fluffy white icing and my dad's sketchy efforts at decoration. 

Of course, these days, there's none of that. 

I've been thinking about honoring the people and places that made me, especially since there is another book in the works about it. Those photos are disintegrating, aging in a way I never would have believed possible. A little like me.

What we do have is a brand new, large, beautiful country table and chair set. It even extends to a larger size. It's perfect for a photo preservation project I'm starting. All those happy times and good souls deserve a lovely place on the wall, to remind me where we've been and where we still need to go. 

Oh - at least this year, there will be cake.