It started as a typical Easter weekend. There was a new outfit, frilly dress, white patent leather shoes, white gloves and flowered hat. The Sunday meal was planned.
There was fasting, no meat, but there were eggs…so many eggs.
By evening, we were on board with the celebration.
Enter PAAS…the century-old egg dye, small tablets activated by white vinegar to produce such lovely color. We were too young to know or care why, we just loved the ritual.
My grandmother presided. A devout Catholic, immigrant from Prague, she loved Easter. We felt her joy.
Sometime during the cleanup, she excused herself, and took to the living room sofa, claiming she felt a bit tired.
She never woke up. Cardiac arrest. Age 57.
Chaos ensued. Our mom was quickly dispatched from her job at Bell Telephone. Grandma was gone by the time she arrived.
Our dad sat in shock. He adored his mother. He had supported her in every way imaginable since the age of 12, when his own father vacated their lives.
We were the three daughters whose world was forever changed; aged 8, 6 and 8 months.
We were losing our real mom, and about to meet our biological one. It would not go well.
For many years that followed, I had a strange, visceral reaction to the smell of vinegar. It took me a while to realize why.
This was to be healed. When my children came along, I embraced the egg dye ritual of Good Friday.
Strangely enough, white vinegar became a staple in my home. Today, it is my go-to cleaning remedy.
I don’t dwell on the sadness of this day. She is so vivid in my memory. She raised me. She was my greatest influence in those developing years. I aspire to have so many of her qualities and values. She was an amazingly strong, devoted and loving human being.
I just wish I’d had her in my life longer. I carry her spirit with me, with love in my heart.
Wishing you all a happy and blessed holiday. Van