The cast of the spring sun spotlights my white, fleshy skin. Some of my freckles have grown into age spots; crows’ feet have burrowed deep like fossils. Easter is a time of rebirth and renewal, but I feel like Punxsutawney Phil fumbling out of my hole after a long winter, blinking away the bright sun only to see that my shadow has grown bigger. Maybe I can burrow back underground for six more weeks.
I remember the days when Easter was about a new dress and white patent leather shoes, a fancy succulent dinner, and visiting Grandpa and all the cousins after church. Today, Easter feels like a marathon check point. Grab a slurp of water from a Dixie cup and see how far you are on the New Year’s resolutions you set back in January. I am no longer young, but I’m not yet old. I am in the middle.
This Easter my family congregated at the rehab center where my 81 year-old father has been living since he broke his hip in January. We are the only family visiting the building filled with aging, ailing elderly. We have commandeered the quadrangle and its gazebo, passing around portable appetizers. Dad is wrapped in blankets and we have managed to create a little celebration at a melancholy place.
Dad has told me that he doesn’t think it is worth the work to get back home. Eighty-one years of trying and rallying through life and he’s tired. He is no longer at the beginning or middle of his life. He is at the end. While the forsythia’s yellow flowers speckle the budding landscape, dad is declining and the only beginning is his long goodbye.
Our children are young, ready to start many new beginnings. The talk at Easter is college acceptance letters, accolades and graduations, talent shows and lacrosse games. But even the kids’ fresh starts are making me feel old. My son is no longer a toddler or a kindergartner. He is closer to junior high school than I care to acknowledge. He wants Grand Theft Auto instead of lullabies, cuddles and bedtime stories. He knows there is a man in the Easter Bunny suit and I suspect he knows bunnies aren’t delivering candy baskets all over the world.
A woman in a bunny suit greets us with a basket of lollipops. She is not with the nursing home, but a volunteer, making a visit to greet the residents. What a good person, I think; wondering what spurred her to donate her time in this selfless way. I envy her energy, kindness, hope and the joy she is sharing.
A week after Easter it has snowed, spring has halted for one day, trees frosted like an Ansel Adams portrait and I am happy. Maybe I can have one more day to hibernate and tomorrow I can start another new beginning with a fresh attitude and I will let the sun wreak havoc on my skin.