Betty sipped her coffee as she sat in the predawn morning on her front porch. She loved to be alone in the mornings as much as she loved visiting with her husband when he typically got out of bed a couple hours after her. This morning was an ordinary morning, aside from the fact that in just a few hours they would be singing along to all the traditional Easter songs she’d memorized in church as a child. Church would be lively as it was most Sundays, and Easter Sundays were the liveliest. She felt an excitement for the celebration of the resurrection of her Lord. There were no butterflies of awe and wonder like she would have liked, but she knew Easter would be lovely.
“I know you like your alone time, but I thought I’d do something out of the ordinary on this fine Easter morning and join you before the sun is up. That okay with you?” Betty’s husband of 53 years knew her well.
“That would be nice. We can watch the sun light up the morning together.” She hid any hint of wishing she had just a few more minutes to herself.
The couple sat in their rocking chairs in comfortable silence. Were they both remembering the Easters of their child rearing days? Betty loved to remember those days they had with their daughters. Twin girls to dress up! Not a single Easter had gone by without the fanfare of the finest Easter outfits. Even in their teen years her daughters had allowed their mom to be involved in picking out the perfect dresses and shoes. When the time came to search for prom dresses, and then wedding dresses, they breezed through as seasoned veterans!
Betty broke the silence with a giggle.
“Thinking about the perms?” Her husband asked with humor.
“Yes! That was the only year they wore Easter hats as teenagers! Jesse wouldn’t even let us talk about it until she and Jeanie were almost thirty!” Betty and her husband laughed so hard they had shush each other to not wake the neighbors.
Margot and Mason, her grandchildren and also twins (a girl and a boy), were the first of the grandkids – Jessie’s two. Then Jeanie and her husband adopted brothers through fostering. Betty thought she knew joy before, but a whole different kind of joy was born in her when she became a grandma – a joy that surprised and overwhelmed her.
Betty put every ounce of herself into loving on those grandkids. She and her husband didn’t miss a single event of their lives. Nothing filled her more than when one of them, now young adults with lives of their own, called her on the phone or stopped in for a surprise visit.
Mason had followed her around everywhere as soon as crawling gave him mobility. Grandma’s boy. The sun rose and set on her as far as she could tell through his eyes. He looked out for her as he got older, always remembering to invite her and his grandpa to his sporting events and offering to help her in the kitchen or with her yard work. She had a box of the drawings and letters he’d given her throughout the years of his life. The letters no longer came, nor did the phone calls or visits.
In church later that morning as she sang, “He’s risen, He’s risen, He’s risen! Ha-lle-lu-jah! Ha-lle-lu-jah!”, Betty pictured Jesus walking out of that tomb and goosebumps tickled her arms. What a mighty God! She reached her hands in the air and rejoiced for the love that compelled Jesus to die for the redemption and salvation that had set her free. She praised God for the power of the Resurrection that defeated sin and death. Jesus is alive! Hope sprung up in her to overflowing.
Their pastor asked if anyone would like to know this Jesus. As he explained repentance and redemption and eternal life, Betty prayed for her grandson.
It had been over three years since she had laid eyes on Mason. Though he called his twin sister every birthday they shared, he hadn’t been close to anyone in the family for years. He was going to be 29 soon. How could that be?
Betty’s son-in-law barbecued for Easter these days. The less formal setting ended up creating a regular young adult gathering each Easter, and the parents and grandparents loved it. Margot had just been engaged to be married, and this year her fiancé’s parents and younger siblings would be joining them as well.
Betty loved how life evolved with each new stage. She had so much more peace now than in her younger years. It took her long enough to learn not to try to foresee the outcome of anything. She took in her surroundings and delighted in the sound of her family laughing and playing in the warmth of the sun.
Margot hadn’t mean to startle her when she looped her arm through her grandma’s. “Grandma, I am so nervous! They’ll all be here soon, and I won’t be able to stand it if they don’t see how amazing you all are. I still haven’t really bonded with Micah’s parents. His sister and brother are still only in high school, but they seem to like me, I think. Do you think we will all still be able to have Easters together after everyone gets married and has kids of their own?”
Her granddaughter’s question was a good one. “Margot, things do change over time. I know it’s hard to let old traditions slide into new ones, but it doesn’t mean that anything is wrong. Whatever new and special traditions you all make as you begin your own families, you’ll always have these memories. They’re like a treasure that will always be yours.” Just then Mason’s 10-year-old face singing in the Easter musical at church flashed before her. Would he feel the same way about the memories? Ironically, it was the subject matter of this day they celebrated that he was so angry about right before he left without saying goodbye.
Mason had experienced success in his young professional life. His family knew through his short and infrequent conversations with his twin sister that he owned a highly sought after photography business in New York City. He had made it big.
It was his junior year of college when things changed. He had been challenged by a professor to explain how a Father who was an all powerful God could kill His own Son who was innocent. Mason had never heard it put that way before, as he had explained to his mom and dad. It shook him. It had also been suggested to him that maybe he had only believed because that was the way he’d been told to believe. His parents couldn’t give him an answer that would satisfy his angst over this crushing perspective. Angry and disillusioned, he walked away and never looked back.
Pictures. Her daughters were picture takers, both of them. Mason apparently got the gene from his mom and aunt. Maybe one Betty could see some of his work.
She always wished she had taken more pictures of her family in all its stages. Jessie and Jeanie loved candids, but they also could make a group groan with the arrangements for a good few hundred group photos. All they were waiting on today for those dreaded group pictures were the guests of honor to arrive, Margot’s in-laws-to-be.
The dogs started to bark and everyone turned to Margot. Poor girl looked scared to death. She went inside to welcome her guests. Introductions were swift and awkward. Margot cringed and gave her mom a pleading look as she positioned everyone, newly arrived guests and all, for the group photo. The misery was short-lived.
Betty’s two grandsons caught her as her knees buckled. “Oh, Jesus. Oh, Jesus, thank you!”
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