At the age of three and yes, I can remember back that far! Easter meant dressing in your best clothes and going to church. There was always an Easter egg hunt at the church, which was lucky for me, as my mother believed it was a day to worship “The Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost”, not hide Easter Eggs.
Daddy would put me into one of the two dresses I owned, both quiet plain and ugly, he brushed out my tight as coils hair and mother finished it off in a crown of corncob ringlets. My mother and sister wore store bought dresses I wore hand-me-downs. Armed with my one-pound lard bucket I was placed in the front seat of an old Army jeep. We could only use it on nice days as the cloth top had been removed after the War!
In those days I did not realize that, everyone in the little Rural Grove Baptist Church was dress in their Sunday finery, and that only a few of us were labeled “share croppers” wore everyday clothes. This did not matter when the service was over, all of the colorful eggs were found, Easter dinner of ham, and the trimmings were waiting at home.
Daddy who refused to go to church would be waiting on the front porch of our tiny clapboard house, picking his banjo with a few of his farm hounds howling. Even Soap sticks, our old mule brayed along with the dogs. When my mother drove up the road, a silence fell across the land. Relatives came from near and far for that Sunday feast, which she hated.
By the age of six my mother made certain that I knew that there was “no” Easter Bunny, she may have been tired of me all year long refusing to eat the rabbits that my daddy killed on a regular basis as part of our food source. I understood by the age of six that the only eggs boiled would go into the potato salad; coloring eggs was a waste of money, to hide them was a waste of time. She no longer allowed me to hunt for the eggs at church. By now, I knew why my daddy would never attend church, my sister left home and that left just mother and me.
By the age of twelve, we had moved from the farm into the city, I was old enough to dress myself and I walked to church alone, for some reason my mother always stayed home with my daddy. In her later years she returned to the church.
The Easter Sunday that I turned thirteen, many of us were put into busses and cars to be taken to the backwaters of the Tennessee River to be baptized. My mother never asks why my clothes were still wet and my hair hung down my back weighing a ton. Daddy looked at me saying, “Well little girl they got you too”, the subject never came up again as relatives were piling into the front door greeted by the aroma of that big ham waiting for them.
By the age of sixteen, I was teaching Sunday school to an excited group of six-year-olds, I did this for ten years, through the years. By the age of twenty-six, I was still teaching Sunday school; by this time, I was taking with me my three little girls, their daddy stayed at home. Now, everyone is gone, my family from my childhood, the husband, and I have lost two of my five children.
If for no other reason, I have to believe that Jesus existed and rose from the dead to enter his father’s Kingdom in Heaven, for if it is not so that would mean I will never see my family again. So, with my time getting closer I celebrate that day and to grasp the idea that there is a Heaven and a Easter Bunny; in my mind’s eye a little curly headed child of a sharecropper is skipping on the green grass at the Rural Grove Baptist Church in Alabama hunting for eggs. Sorry… I have to go; I see another colored egg in the tall grass by the Oak tree!