This Easter I have been thinking a lot about my mom. When she and my father got married in 1945, he was fifty-four and she was twenty-two. Eddie was her first husband. She had finished her Catholic college-prep high school, was still living with her Mother and had a job as an Assistant Highway Surveying Engineer when they married and she moved into the house he bought on 2nd Avenue in Los Angeles, California.
Mom was a nice Catholic girl. She attended and graduated from the Ramona Catholic college-prep high school for girls in Alhambra, California. Ramona was, according to their website, the only Southern California member of an international network of schools sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary. a strong sisterhood with continuing friendships for more than 7,000 alumnae, of which mom was one.
Over the years mom’s connection with the Catholic ties became less and less. She did try to send me to Catholic School but it became too expensive. She gave me my first Bible when I was eight years old and even at that age I was shocked because by then she never went to church, Catholic or otherwise. I didn’t get it. Of course, I still have the Bible though it is a little beat up.
However, mom did keep certain Easter rituals. One was buying lilies. She always bought white lilies. According to a site on the internet some Catholic nations regard white lilies as the symbol of the purity and divinity of Jesus Christ and dedicate them to his mother, Virgin Mary. Now, the fact that mom bought these particular flowers seemed odd to me because she told me that when in school she was the young lady who argued with the nuns at Ramona about Mary being a virgin.
Also, she always bought a ham for Easter. We had to go to that store on La Brea in Los Angeles. Which meant I would have to go with her and stand in this long line and I would probably get a little sample of potato salad while there. There is still a mystery as to why we ate ham at Easter but evidently it was a tradition that meant something to my mom. (I’ve found out since those hams were expensive!) But there was still the fact that she had stopped going to church completely unless I dragged her on special occasions.
Then, in 2005 mom asked me to go to Easter Sunrise Service with her at the Hollywood Bowl. First time I learned she even thought about going to Easter Sunrise Service. Now, the thought of having to get up at 3:00a.m. to get to the Bowl in time did not thrill me. Sitting on those hard slabs looking at a bunch of sleepy people was not much fun. The experience of being in the bowl with so many people waking up to the sunrise was powerful. I experienced a sense of love, tolerance and forgiveness.
My mother never talked much about the meaning of Easter. I have since realized there must have been some meaning in it for her. Her religious viewpoint was more focused on why suffering existed in the world. That’s what she talked about. Believing was difficult for her. But she had her own kind of faith. And it was really more optimistic than she would admit to.
Thanks to my mom I have a faith in which I believe and I have a sense of tradition. I believe in love, tolerance and forgiveness. Mom died in 2010. I haven’t had one of those Easter Hams since. However, for some reason last week I bought a ham slice. And I have noticed those lilies all over the supermarkets. Yesterday I spent the whole day listening to old time gospel music. Happy Easter, mom.
I wish a sense of love and tolerance and forgiveness for our world today. Happy Easter, and thanks, for stopping by.