Easter with my Aunt Mary Rose

Today is the Wednesday before Easter. Growing up, this was an important day for me because this was the day my mom picked my brother, Paul, and I up from school, and we drove seven hours south to my aunt’s house. There we spent Easter weekend with my Aunt Mary Rose, Uncle Bob, and my three cousins: David, Danny and Billy.

My aunt lived outside of Fayetteville, Arkansas. Uncle Bob raised chickens, lots of chickens, and coon hounds. It’s a different a life than I know now. My cousins and I played basketball or four square or swam in the creek or explored. I remember being outside all of the time. I remember being busy.

My aunt handled her three boys with such aplomb. Nothing fazed her. I think that might have been an occupational skill. She was a registered nurse at the VA.

My aunt has this delicious drawl. She can turn the word “baby” into three syllables. Some of my favorite Aunt Mary Rose sayings: “Never trust a skinny cook,” and “Well, Louise (that’s my mom), I get home sooner because I don’t poke ass along.” (My mother was the world’s slowest driver. No, really. The slowest).  

I was the only girl among all of these boys, and I like to think that I kept up with them. I was proud to run with my cousins. I wanted to do whatever they did. My moment of honor was when my cousin, David, lost a $10 bill. That was big money in 1970-something. I found it. I looked down on the ground and there it was. I was the hero, for all of two minutes, but you take your glory where and when you can.

One year, my cousins and I walked down to a nearby creek and found a huge piece of Styrofoam floating there. We made a raft out of it and spent the entire day playing in this muddy water. Unfortunately, I played barefoot. Holy buckets but my feet hurt.

I’ve kept alive the Easter traditions that my Aunt Mary Rose taught me. My children and I color dozens of eggs on the Saturday before Easter. We also watch “The Ten Commandments” every year. Oh, Moses! Moses! 

Even now, at this time of year, I feel the strongest pull to go home. This must be something akin to what birds feel when they migrate. I feel like I’m missing something, like part of me is lost and can only be found by getting in the car and driving to my aunt’s home. The drive is a little further now: 27 hours or 1,800 miles from my home in eastern Washington to Fayetteville, Arkansas. If I leave by Friday, I should make it in time for Easter dinner.

Hands and arms inside the cart, please. Next: Aunt Mary Rose saves my novel, Bone Girl.




Who are these three old farts with my Aunt Mary Roses? From left, Bill; center, Danny; and on the right, David.

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