Sunday, April 12, 2009
Easter was important for the Italian side of my family. My cousins and I would zip into sweet little pastel dresses over lacy white tights, our brothers tucked into mini suits and ties. I remember brisk but sunny days, peeping flowers, church bells. After mass we would gather at the home where my grandmother was born and graze on egg bread, olives, pepper biscuits, macaroni pie and sandwiches of provolone, proscuitto, capicola. My great Aunt Mary would begin ladeling piping hot bowls of chicken escarole soup. The easter eggs we had colored just the day before would be at the center of the table in a basket, behind us a wall of photos where my great grandfather and all of his children that had passed could smile upon us. Before long the adults would concede to our constant begging that the pinatta games begin, and we would head out into the cool air of the backyard. Blindfolded, I was spun until the hem of my dress caught air and then swung wildly. Little scavengers scurried in all directions, palms damp from Easter dew. We returned inside to sort our winnings, while coffee and biscotti were passed, then coconut cake with jelly beans on top. What I cannot describe to you is the scent of this home, or perhaps not the scent, the feel of the home on this day. My grandmother was one of 11 children. The wallpaper in the living room is exactly the same as it was when she was growing up. I guess I would call it happily haunted, for much love and many lives make the air thick and rich. There is a buoyancy, like in a heavily salted sea, maybe even like the Dead Sea, where my grandmother and her sisters floated when they visited Israel so many years ago.