I walked into the church on that Easter Sunday in my yellow seersucker dress that Mama had made for me. My sister wore one just like it and I fumed. First of all, I hated the Easter dress custom because Mama never let me pick out what I wanted. She decided what I would wear, and at the mature age of 8 years, I knew very well that I was plenty old enough to make my own decisions about clothes. She did concede some issues to my better judgment. For example, I tolerated no lace and no ribbons on my dresses—not even one. A sash hung down in the back, but it was plain, not frilly, and besides, I couldn’t see it behind me. And just because the whole world thought females should adorn themselves in pink didn’t mean I would wear that horrid color. I had agreed under duress to the yellow fabric.
“Mary Ann, you can have a pink or a yellow dress for Easter this year,” Mama said to me.
“Mama, you know how I hate pink,” I replied.
“Yellow it is then.”
Finally, who on earth ever decided that it was cute to dress sisters alike? I certainly didn’t think so. So I suffered mightily.
I sat diligently in church beside Daddy, keeping my eyes trained on the preacher to make a good show of listening to him. I actually did hear a word or two now and again until my mind drifted off to the afternoon activities--the Annual Easter Egg Hunt out at Grandpa’s farm with all my rowdy Hayes cousins. I’m not even sure how many cousins there were. I tried to add them all up, but all I got was a headache. Suffice it to say that my Grandparents had nine children and each child was prolific in reproducing, also. My parents had only the two of us and therefore the smallest family.
Every family brought dozens of colored eggs, and Grandma also boiled some. About 2:00 p.m., the adults would take all those eggs down to a wooded area below the old wooden farm house and hide them. Looking back, I’m sure they hid some in harder places to be somewhat challenging—up in tree forks or in a briar patch. Some were just under various clumps of straw or grass. It usually took them about an hour to hide all the eggs. We children were forced to remain on the long front porch directly in Grandpa’s line of sight until the word came.
When it did, Grandpa gave the rules: No running, no shoving, and no taking eggs from smaller cousins. Then he turned us loose and all the rules fell under running feet. Every single one of us had to get there first. Our financial futures depended on it. Somewhere out there in the egg patch was a golden plastic egg with a $5 bill inside.
As a rule, I’ve spent my life following rules, but my wilder and older cousins made their own. In the egg patch, Sammy plowed through the underbrush, reaching where other hands were aimed, grabbing any egg that happened to be there. Before I could protest or pick myself up from being bowled over, along came Michael. If I finished with 5 eggs in my basket, I was ecstatic. Invariably, either Sammy or Michael found the prize egg and the rest of us protested, but to no avail. Back on Grandpa’s porch, we were forced to share eggs so that everyone had several. Sammy gloated and planned how he’d spend his fortune.
“Mary Ann, look at your dress,” Mama moaned. “I bet I’ll never get the grass stains out.”
As I sat on the steps shelling Easter eggs and eating them, I asked, “Mama, how old do I have to be to not hunt eggs anymore?”
“Why, you don’t worry about that,” she replied. “You have many more years of fun yet to come.”