Go In Peace
Sooo…Sunday Is Easter which means two things; one, we will celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Savior, Jesus Christ and, two, I get to eat chocolate! Thank you for dying for my sins, Jesus! And, thank you, God, for chocolate!
I love Easter. Some of my best childhood memories center on the holiday. My parents excelled at the whole Easter Bunny business, filling our baskets with goodies galore, organizing egg hunts, and buying my sisters and me each a new dress, shiny shoes and an orchid corsage; what wasn’t to love?
One particular Easter, however, is etched forever in my memory for reasons having nothing whatsoever to do with jelly beans, deviled eggs or my mythical rabbits bearing chocolate.
I guess I must have been around six or seven and that particular Easter morning, as on every Easter Sunday in my childhood memory, my mother dressed my sisters and me in our new- and matching-dresses. As far as our matching dresses go, that year wasn’t so bad, they were long in length, the fabric was devoid of scratchy lace that might cause itching and it featured a bunny print that would come in handy later in the day, as you shall soon see.
The previous night, Mom had washed our hair and set it on spongy pink rollers (torture devices; created solely for the purpose of making little girls wish, with every fiber of their beings, that they had been born BOYS). The resulting curls were combed out and twisted tightly into buns on top of our heads, pulling our foreheads tauter than a face-lift and tilting our eyelids at the corners, prompting my older sister to chant a forbidden joke that went; Me Chinese, me play joke. Me go pee-pee in your Coke.
We whined about the pain but mom would have none of it after all, Jesus died on the cross, girls! What did we have to complain about? And, off to church we went.
The priest of our parish at that time was named-I kid you not-Father Grimes. Father Grimes was gruff and grumpy and I was of the belief that he hated children and me, in particular. Furthermore, I was convinced that he secretly ate small children. Every Sunday, when it was time to present the Body and Blood of Christ during mass, the man licked his chops and stared at me. I’m not even making that up; I lived in mortal terror of Father Grimes, cowering behind my father every Sunday as we made our way out of the church on the off-chance that I would have to shake hands with the man and he would forget himself and eat me alive with a hundred Catholics to bear witness.
To make a long story short (ha! Too late), sometime during the mass, while I tried desperately to avoid eye-contact with Father Grimes lest he signal his obvious intent to dine upon my flesh, my older sister got a little bit carried away while twirling a rosary and accidentally nailed my younger sister in the eye with the cross, causing her to cry. Mom scooped her up, nodded to Dad and headed down the aisle, taking her out of the church so she wouldn’t disturb the other parishioners in their prayers.
Now, the only time I ever got paraded down the aisle and out of the church during mass was when I had done something naughty and the trip generally ended with a swat, lovingly administered by my mother. Not realizing that my younger sister had been nailed in the eye by a religious artifact, I assumed she was in trouble and, being an overprotective older sister, I raced into the aisle and shouted at the top of my lungs…”Please don’t hit my sister!” Or, something equally likely to make a parent wish with every fiber of her being that the earth would simply open up and swallow her whole.
My mother froze like a deer in headlights.
After a few seconds (the time it took her to thaw out), she turned ever so slowly to face me and, the look in her eyes had no place in the House of Our Lord, I assure you. However, she calmly walked back up the aisle, handed my now non-crying-but totally shocked-sister to my father, took my hand and led me out of the church where, to her credit, she somehow managed to refrain from killing me on the spot.
Instead, I got lectured about the inappropriateness of my outburst, how much it had embarrassed her, etc. Then, she informed me that, after mass, I would be apologizing…. to Father Grimes. Believe me when I say; killing me would have been kinder.
We returned to our pew and I spent the rest of the long mass staring down at the frolicking bunnies on my dress. I counted them. I sorted them into colors. I sorted them by size as I mentally prepared myself for the inevitable moment when I would be eaten by Father Grimes.
When the mass ended and we were encouraged to “go in peace”, I followed my family down the aisle and waited my turn in line to apologize to- and to be eaten by- Father. It was a long line what with all the Easter/Christmas Catholics who had turned out for the Mass so I had plenty of time to contemplate my fate and to work myself into quite the state of agitation.
In fact, by the time I made it to the front of the line, I was in tears and my apology was delivered in a whisper, choked with sobs. Father Grimes bent down, took my hands in his and told me that I was forgiven. Only then did I look him in the eye.
He licked his chops and I may, or may not, have peed my pants.
My mother’s version of events may differ, slightly but, in my defense, I was a child.
Happy Easter! May the bunny shower you with chocolate and may you never soil a church with urine. Because, folks?
That is embarrassing; I don’t care how old you are.