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.