Week 6

Reflections on Easter past and present.

Fran LoBiondo
by Fran LoBiondo

That was a weird Easter Sunday, wasn’t it? No local Mass. Stay home from church. I’ve lived a few years now, and seen a lot of unexpected things, but I have never been told to skip Mass on a Sunday.

My mother and her devout group of senior churchgoers used to walk to the bus stop in the snow to catch a ride to Mass.

Afterwards, someone with a car would drive the group to the local diner, where they would eat brunch, drink coffee and tawk. It was a soul-soothing ritual for them.

Sometimes, if the weather was lousy and they weren’t going anywhere, they’d just stay at the diner for the Early Bird dinner. They knew how to blow off dead time.

My husband’s Grammom lived to be 102, and she was known for going to church every day but Sunday, because she went to Saturday evening Mass.

They were some Colossal Catholics, living the way their parents taught them.

Mom and Grammom are gone now, but this past Easter, I could imagine them sitting in front of the television, celebrating Easter Sunday with the Pope. Italians have been hit hard by the coronavirus, so they and the tourists stayed home in droves.

Speaking from the empty space outside the Vatican, the Holy Father said: “In these days, I will offer Mass for those who are sick from the coronavirus epidemic, for the doctors, nurses, volunteers who are helping them, for their families, for the elderly in nursing homes, for prisoners.”

Easter this year was almost as strange as another year when my whole family met up at Chili’s in Toms River because nobody wanted to cook a big meal and Greg wanted very badly to go there for the Original Crispy fried chicken tenders and fries and Sprite.

It was a funky but great idea, we had fun. Greg was happy and some among us were sending up special thanks to the risen Lord for saving us from hosting the celebration.

Because this was a stay-home Easter, Therese prepared and served a dinner of roasted pork loin, baked potatoes, broccoli and biscuits.

She kindly refused any help I offered and the result was delicious. We missed George, Kate and young Benjamin, but they ordered some Brooklyn pizza and by computer we all watched Ben jumping off the couch and onto his parents. He laughs so gleefully as he flies through the air, we can’t help it, we all laugh, too.

In a few days, we will turn the calendars to May, but Greg has already decorated for spring.

Fortunately, there’s not much difference between Mother’s Day décor and Easter finery. Greg might want to stow the baskets away for next year, but bunnies, ducks and flowers can stand in for spring accoutrements.

In my youth, we all got large chocolate eggs, some filled with dried fruit, and some with coconut.

The result was still the same; a wringing bellyache and a promise to myself not to eat crème-filled candy until next Easter. Or ever.

I have some good memories of Easter, too. Like the time my brother, Jerry and I were on the swings in the backyard. I was still dressed in my frilly pink church ensemble to show it off, and I saw my white purse on the ground, underneath the other swing.

Even at age three, I knew if Jerry saw it there, he’d stomp it in the mud and say he didn’t.

Well, I had to take action, so I jumped off my swing and ran to my bag. As I bent over to save it, Jerry swung in and kicked me right in my dressy rumba pants. and I went flying across the lawn and landed face first on the edge of a cinder block.

The mess was epic. Blood flowed from my forehead and onto my frilly pink dress.

Mom took me to the emergency room, where we waited.

I was crying, and Mom was about six months pregnant so to soothe me, she told me she would have to be on a hospital bed, too, when the baby came.

So when the nurse came for me, I said: “You go first, Mommy!”

I felt so betrayed when they put me on a gurney and wheeled me in for stitches, I gave them my fight.

“You get me down from here now!”

“Don’t you touch me!”

The whole staff heard me, and got a good chuckle.

Life Sentences