THE VERY SPECIAL EASTER DRESS
By Lisa Benjamin Lucius
Special to the Daily Journal
One of my most vivid memories as a child has to do with my father, a blue dotted Swiss Easter dress, and my first grade Easter egg hunt. To this day I still can’t identify just exactly why this is a special memory for me.
I grew up in a rural area with an extremely small, yet effective “country” school. There was only one section of each elementary grade. Our first grade teacher became our “second” mother. She rocked children who sat on her large lap, pulled loose teeth, helped change soiled clothes, and became our “mainstay” in the hours that we spent with her. She knew each of her students’ families personally, having taught in this school for many years. She made learning fun I realized this fact after many years as an adult and teacher. It was her practice that the Friday before Easter was to be spent with an all-day picnic and egg hunt.
It was in this particular year that my mother, an excellent seamstress, made for me a blue dotted Swiss Easter dress with a white pinafore. I felt very special as I stood before the mirror in my new dress. I was to realize later the care that my mother had taken in the making of this dress. She often sewed at night after having worked all day. The cost of clothing was a main concern for her being that she had three growing daughters. My Easter dress was “the dress” as far as I was concerned.
On the morning of our egg hunt I awoke to the sounds of my mother cooking breakfast and the smells of my father smoking. I knew exactly what I would wear to school on this morning my Easter dress. Never mind that it was very cool outside and I would be participating in events unsuitable for my new dress.
As I began to get ready for school, I realized that my mother and I had different ideas concerning my attire for the day. My mother began to list the practical reasons for not wearing the dress. The weather was much too cool. The dress was not suitable for an egg hunt. There was the possibility of the dress being soiled or torn. I had equally as effective arguments. This was what I would look best in for the day. All of my friends had said that they were wearing Easter dresses. What was an Easter dress for if not for an Easter egg hunt? Our voices were raised to a pitch that most would consider loud. Mother won this intense discussion. It was pants and a sweater for me on this day. The discussion ended with tears mine.
After I was dressed I had to wait with my basket and eggs for my school bus. It was at this time that I overheard my father ask my mother if she thought that the other children on the bus could tell that I had been crying. This question made me realize how much my father cared even though he had not said one word concerning my new dress.
To understand why my father’s comment played such a large part in this childhood memory, I have had to remember the quality of my father’s own childhood. He came from a very large family that often found it a struggle to “make ends meet.” He never wished for any of his daughters to encounter difficulties or undue embarrassment. Although he was not very demonstrative with his affections, I have come to realize that in his own special way that he did indeed love me.
Before my father’s death, I asked him if he could remember this incident. The only thing that he recalled was that blue dotted Swiss Easter dress. However, I will always feel that this is one of those special memories of my father.
Lisa Benjamin Lucius teaches fourth grade at South Pontotoc Elementary School. She is also a Teacher Consultant at the University of Mississippi Writing Institute in Oxford.