Easter Musings

“The flowers of the earth have risen;
They are singing their Easter song.
Up the valleys and over the hillsides,
They come as unnumbered throng.”
“Nature’s Easter Music” by Lucy Larcom
(1824 to 1893)

I think back to when our kids were little. They always had new outfits to wear to church on Easter Sunday and then over to their Grandma and Grandpa McDonough’s home in Jamaica Plain. Grandma was a very wise woman. She had the table all set by Thursday or Friday before the holiday. The serving dishes were on the sideboard. The pots and pans were ready on the stove to welcome the vegetables.

I also think back to the years when for Christmas and Easter, I would make an apple strudel that Pillsbury made, that was in the dairy chest. I would roll out the crust and then put the apple filling down the middle of the dough. I would then roll the sides of the dough till each side touched the apple filling. I would then open the package of cinnamon and brown sugar and spread it over the apple filling. Into the oven the strudel would go. When it came out piping hot, I would spread a tube of white icing over the hot pastry. As the kids got bigger, I had to make two strudels because they loved it so much. They thought I was a gourmet cook. God bless Pillsbury!

I also remember that we used to hide the kids’ Easter baskets, but never down cellar or in the attic, where they might fall in their excitement to find their baskets. As soon as it was light, one of the kids would awaken and rouse the other two. One year, we put the baskets in the bathtub (on a clean towel) and pulled the shower curtain. That year it probably took them two minutes longer to find them. Somewhere in the house we have a photo of our youngest, Jeanne, probably about three, sitting on our bed next to her sleeping father, with chocolate smeared all over her face. She was even sporting the paper bunny ears that she was given when she met the Easter Bunny down at the South Shore Plaza the week before.

For many years, we also took photos of the kids in their Easter finery against the fence of Auntie Ethel and Uncle Tip’s home, on the sunny side of the street, early Easter morning. This is now our home and it has been for the past 30 years. Daughter Sue lives in our former home across the street. The girls, when they were young, had curls after sleeping in pink foam curlers all night. Hubby, because he worked part-time for Supreme Market, always bought Easter flowers when they first appeared in his market. He learned, over the years, that the best flowers were the first to appear in the market. These are all such nice memories!

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This has been a sad week for us. As I read the obituaries in The Boston Globe the other day, I learned that an old friend had passed away. I knew Ann Hanwell quite well because she parked on our street, across from our home, for many years. She knew that Hubby, also a Boston School teacher, would not return home till after she left the Murphy School for the day. She was so pleasant. We knew that her kindergarteners must have loved her. I know that we did. I remember, vividly, the day that I left my home to go over to the store that is now Stop & Shop. I saw that two young men were in Ann’s station wagon. I yelled at them and told them to get out of the car. They ran away very quickly. Thank goodness they only had time to pop the ignition. I called the Murphy and Ann came right over to her car. Over these recent years, since her retirement, I have only seen Ann a few times, sorry to say. Until I saw her obit, I didn’t realize that she had also taught at the Minot School. (The children that she taught were very fortunate.) Our family sends its sympathy to her husband Albert “Bert” and to their children: Rev. John, S.J., Neil, Ann Therese Doyle, and Kevin. We also send our sympathy to her siblings, some of whom we know: Helen Lee, Mary Pipia, Claire Stanton, Catherine Donovan, Frances O’Toole, and Neil and Bernard Doherty. By the way, I learned, from friend Eileen, that Ann had taught Religious Ed. at St. Ann’s, many years ago, when Rev. Walter McAndrews was pastor.

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On Sunday, St. Patrick’s evening, I received a phone call from pal Eileen Collins. I thought that she was calling to see what kind of time we had had on St. Patrick’s Day. She, however, shocked me by saying that her best friend, Mary Scarborough, had passed away that day. Eileen, Mary, and some other friends, also from Keystone, had been out on Saturday evening and had enjoyed themselves. When Mary’s children could not reach her the following morning, they called Eileen to see what was going on. (Mary and Eileen were first neighbors, then friends, and then co-workers during their 40 plus years of friendship.) Eileen went to her apartment and discovered that she had passed away on her sofa before she had gone to bed. It was so hard for me to believe that Mary had passed at age 70. Hubby and I had gone traveling with Mary, especially to the Irish Village. We knew that she would collect money from some friends so that she could purchase a good-sized box of fudge at the Stage Stop Candy House to thank Tom McCormack, who is the manager of the dining room at the Irish Village.
Tom loved joking around with our group and took such special care of us. We had so much fun with Mary that our trips to the Cape were always fun. We knew that she set up Keystone each Saturday so that the priest could come in and say Mass for the residents. For those residents unable to get downstairs to Mass, Mary would go to their apartments and give them Communion. We also knew that she, as a retired health-care worker, was able to take great care of some of the residents of Keystone, in particular, her friend and neighbor, the late Winnie O’Malley. Hubby and I send our sympathy to her children Linda, David, and his wife Diana, and Christopher. We also send our sympathy to her brother, Joe Scarborough, and his wife Barbara, and to her “sister” Eileen Collins.

Hubby and I, of course, attended Mary’s Funeral Mass, along with many of those from Keystone. Father John Connolly, who just returned to St. Brendan’s after recovering from knee surgery, concelebrated the Mass with Father John McCarthy, the Irish Pastoral Centre’s chaplain. Father Connolly made us laugh when he recalled his experiences with Mary. “She was suspicious of me when I first came to St. Brendan’s because I came from working with the Cardinal.” Father Connolly appreciated all the good things that Mary had done. Mary’s grand-nephew “J.R.” Foley, also spoke about his many memories of his Great Aunt Mary, making us laugh once again. Hubby and I are saddened by Mary’s death. She will be greatly missed. By the way, I must mention the beautiful statue of St. Patrick that was on the altar of St. Brendan’s Church during Mary’s Funeral Mass. Hubby stood next to it so we could guess its height. It was just a few inches shorter than he, so we guess that it must be close to six feet tall. The statue is in color and his green vestments and his gold mitre (miter) are positively beautiful. I complimented Father Connolly on the statue.

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Hubby and I also attended a very happy function last week. On Fri., March 15, Sister Elizabeth, who is the director of the Notre Dame Montessori School at St. Christopher’s, had invited us to her students’ Irish celebration. When we first went into the school area, Sister introduced us to her friends, Sister Janice and Sister Elizabeth. We chatted with our church pals, Chuck and Sharon, who were also there. Sister Elizabeth also introduced us to Jack Shaughnessy, who is a benefactor of the school. The little children formed a circle on the floor. They sang their songs: “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Praise Him,” and “The Unicorn.” Then two of the little girls, who already had taken Irish step dancing, got up on their feet and led the children in doing “Irish” dancing in a circle. As the music went on, more of the little Notre Dame Shamrock Dancers got up to dance. We all laughed as they performed for us. They were adorable. I must mention that the youngest child attending the celebration was Maeve O’Donnell. She was born on Jan. 10 and was very well behaved during the children’s singing and dancing.

When the children’s Irish celebration was finished, Sister Elizabeth invited us into the large auditorium to have “coffee and.” The pastries were scrumptious. I think our friend Dorothy Harris might have made some of the goodies. She was in the church’s kitchen quite a long time before she came out to chat with us. Chuck and Sharon sat at our table. Jack Shaughnessy also came over and sat with us. We had learned that his son Michael and our son Paul were at BC High together (Class of 1979). We agreed, with Jack, that BC High was a terrific school. Jack, his sons, and grandsons all studied there. What a great education they all received. God bless BC High!
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Our family wishes everyone a very Happy Easter. Enjoy it with your family!