Commentary: Has anyone besides me been wanting their mommy recently? It’s been a rough period. In stretches of trouble, it’s often comforting to recall happier times. Facebook is full of people posting stories of good times they’ve shared with family and friends.
This story is one of my fondest childhood memories and I’ve shared it before. Easter is only days away and now seems like the perfect time to share it again.
For most of my childhood, we lived in a two-bedroom frame house in Rosenberg, about a half-block from the elementary school I attended. The wood-framed house had a huge back yard where we planted a garden of lettuce, okra, and squash every spring and was large enough that we could play baseball, volleyball, run races, and have our annual Easter egg hunts.
Easter was a very important holiday for us. We always looked forward to it, in part because Mama told us that the Easter bunny would be paying us a visit on Easter morning.
In preparation for the annual visit by the candy-giving rabbit, we first had to build a nest for him to lay his eggs in. For some reason, the Easter bunny was always male. We normally built our nests on a set of triangular shelves in the corner of the screened-in back porch. Tootsie, being the oldest, would lay claim to the top shelf, Bebe got the second shelf, and I got the middle one. Robin always got the shelf just below mine and Kelvin, being the baby of the family, got the bottom shelf.
On Saturday evening we would all go into the backyard to pull grass to make our nests. We had to be careful to avoid any “presents” that may have been left on the lawn by Spotty or Peanut, the family pets. We would then take the grass to our designated shelves and carefully form a perfect circle. After that mission was accomplished we would head back to the yard looking for flowers or something pretty to embellish the rings of grass. Buttercup flowers, growing wild in the yard were the usual choice of ornaments. When the nests were properly decorated, all that was left to do was to wait for the goodies sure to come our way.
On the Saturday night before Easter, we would dye hard-boiled eggs Mama had prepared for us. We usually got the eggs from the chickens in our own back yard. Sitting around the dining room table with The Lawrence Welk Show or The Hollywood Palace playing on the black and white TV in the background, we took careful turns dipping our eggs into the colored water. Of course, “accidentally” breaking one meant that you could peel it and eat it. I like mine with lots of salt and pepper. We couldn’t wait for tomorrow when we would run out to check our nests and then later that day carry our brightly colored Easter baskets with plastic grass in them and skip around the yard, picking up the eggs that the Easter bunny had brought us.
One Easter morning when I was about nine or ten years old, I woke up much earlier than anyone else in the house, or so I thought. The house was quiet as a mouse, there weren’t any lights on and the sun was just beginning to rise.
I decided that I would sneak out to the back porch to see what the Easter bunny had brought. I was sure that my nest would be overflowing with candied eggs and chocolates, as it was certainly the most beautiful. I had a flair for decorating even before puberty.
I opened the back door that led to the porch and looked to the left where the nests were on display. Instead of seeing mounds of goodies piled high on the shelves, I saw my mother with a basket full of eggs and other treats, gently placing them into the nests that we had prepared for the bunny’s annual visit. She didn’t notice me at first as I stood there in silent disbelief, not trusting my eyes. Mama was the Easter Bunny!
Suddenly she saw me standing there watching her with astonishment clearly showing on my face. She countered with a startled look of her own as she cried out, “Bubba!” She didn’t say anything else as there was nothing else to say.
However, a few minutes later she acknowledged what we both now knew and asked me not to say anything about my discovery to my two younger siblings, wanting to keep the fantasy alive for them a little longer. Apparently my two older siblings already knew and had kept her secret as I now would.
Happy childhood memories stay with you your entire life if you’re lucky.