Tonight I remember my Lola (my grandma).
Like the many times that I've thought of her in the almost two years since her passing, her memory is covered in tears. A random thought can trigger that homesick feeling, swelling up from the chest, tightening my throat, and slowly, surely, making its way out with a steady, salty cascade.
I've sobbed into a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, I've cried while making soap (no tears or undesirables made their way into the mixture, I promise, because I usually end up taking a break), and tonight, looking at these photos, I really do miss her.
I remember that growing up, she would indulge her grandchildren year after year with an Easter egg hunt, and while her hiding places became so predictable that we knew where to look (on the window sill, inside the giant conch in her garden, behind the painting in the garage), my cousins and I gamely rushed to them with the fervor of kids let loose in Fun Ranch after a carbo-loaded snack of spaghetti and French fries.
To be honest, her eggs weren't very pretty (it was the pre-Internet age and you couldn't find Martha Stewart tutorials anywhere). There were some years when we would help her paint them, but I distinctly remember one afternoon when I thought, that's it, I'm done, I'm not bothering with this Easter egg-decorating thingamajig anymore. (Just the decorating part; I was still in for the hunt, of course, as by then the cousins got older and jaded and the aunts and uncles had to up the ante by offering cash prizes with the eggs.) That was the day I sat with her in her kitchen, crayon in my right hand (she decided to do away with paint that year as it was just too messy and it got on everything), hardboiled egg in my left, and thought, 'There is no way I can make this egg look pretty.'
And so I never bothered again. But for several years, Lola kept on making them anyway, each egg painted with layers and layers of love, until the last grandchild was too old to care for egg hunts. Then, without fanfare or a hint of acknowledgment, the eggs disappeared. It's interesting how I can't remember exactly when the egg hunts ended, perhaps because the love that was behind them never did.
When the Lord took her home just before Easter Sunday in 2011, we knew our annual Easter gatherings would never be the same. We knew there would be a lot of deep sighing. We knew our chests would be tight.
Lola lived to meet four of her great-grandchildren. I honestly think they made her happier than we grandchildren ever did (and we're cool with that, right, cousins?). And so we thought it was the right time to continue her legacy of love with...an Easter egg hunt, of course!
I don't remember how the responsibility of making the Easter eggs became mine, but I was determined to make Easter eggs that would make her proud! I have to admit that looking at the photos of that first batch, they weren't that great, but I really outdid myself. (Thank you, Martha Stewart!) My cousin K, upon seeing the eggs, remarked, 'You do realize that after doing this, you're going to have to do this every year, right?'
I was scared to death, making that first batch of eggs. But making them with my daughter N calmed my nerves, and we had fun talking about Lola, especially how she loved to make lumpia (fried spring rolls) for N. The photos you saw above are of this year's batch. As we decorated the eggs this afternoon, we talked about Lola again, this time with my son D joining us, and though he was not even a year old when she passed, he listened intently as we talked about how she loved.
And there, in our messy kitchen, hands stained with food coloring, I saw why Lola bothered. And tonight, I give thanks for Easter, because it promises that there will be a time when I will be decorating eggs with her again.
I love you, Lola, and I miss you so much.