There is one unfortunate thing that I had in common with my father, neither of us enjoyed holidays, any of them. We both had our reasons, similarly, multiple crisis and tragedies that seem to occur at nearly every holiday. For me, it went a level higher with the spiritual sense, because following my battle with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I looked at the big two holidays, Christmas and Easter, for what they were supposed to mean to me, especially given another shot at life. But the commercialization of all of the holidays, combined with the unfortunate events, just left me really disliking what they holidays were becoming.
My parents divorced when I was very young. My mother had custody of my sister and I. But early on, my dad did share some holiday spirit (gifts and Easter candy), though I honestly cannot remember if it was on the actual holidays. And as I grew, I definitely remember him not being there at all.
I have discussed the relationship with my father in past posts. Long story short, in my early 20’s, we made amends sort of, agreeing to move on with our lives, build from there, and whatever happened, happened.
In the mid 1990’s, he and I, along with my brother and sisters started a new tradition. We did not really recognize the holiday itself, but my father decided that on Easter, he wanted everyone to get together at his house. My stepmother and Dad would prepare the entire meal. All we had to do was show up. And we did. It was one of the few times that all of us were in a house all together like that. My stepmother had also begun a tradition, going to a local flea market, and purchasing ceramic Easter eggs which she gave to all the females of the family.
But following a horrific car accident, my stepmother being hit by a car, changed what after a few promising years had become. For obvious reasons, as she struggled to survive for many months, Easter had been put on hold that year. But the following year, all us children had decided that we would help my father to once again, hold the Easter dinner. My brother had actually went and bought the ceramic eggs for my stepmother. And all the children would contribute food in some form. Inspired by our effort, my Dad stated that he wanted to take care of the Easter ham.
After the meal was done, we would go outside to hold an Easter egg hunt for my dad’s grandchildren. My brother and I started a new and weird tradition, doing the Easter dishes. This would go on for a couple of years. But another loss, the passing of my sister from a battle with ALL (a blood cancer), we struggled to get together, all with the same efforts. My brother, other sister, and I would also experience our first divorce during these years since the tradition began. But for my Dad, we kept on doing it, year after year.
But as much as my dislike for the holidays that I had, with the arrival of my daughters, Easter celebration with my Dad took on a whole new meaning.
There is no doubt that my daughters played a pivotal role on me giving the celebration of holidays another chance. Year after year, my daughters would participate in egg hunts along with all of their cousins.
In February of 2013, my father was diagnosed with lung cancer. Once again we were faced with another Easter being considered for cancellation. My Dad was concerned that he would not physically be up for it. But all of us assured my Dad that we wanted to take full responsibility this year, including the ham to keep going what we had grown. He reluctantly agreed.
Several months later, his cancer turned more aggressive. He was declared terminal. And in 2014, as yet another Easter holiday was approaching, this time my father was in a nursing home, in hospice. We had arranged for my stepmother to be with him, staying in the same nursing home, as they had never been separated before in over 40 years, and we did not want them separated in what could most likely be his last days. As Easter of 2014 came up, we all decided that we would do Easter together as we had for so many years.
Easter would be brought to both my Dad and stepmother, and throughout the day, we would all join them. All the food would be cooked and brought to the home. And yes, the ceramic eggs were bought.
My Dad passed away a little over a month later. Easter just does not seem the same. It is just Sunday to me today. I know the religious importance of the day as I was taught. But for all the celebrations and gatherings, the day remains empty for me.