It’s been a lazy, unproductive Easter for me. I went into it planning to read a lot and write a lot and maybe cook a little. I haven’t done any extra reading, I’ve hardly written, and while I made a pie yesterday, haven’t cooked much. Instead, I’ve watched footy on the TV and on Saturday afternoon ventured down to Sandringham oval to watch a VFL game. Saturday night I had a big night out, which left me feeling very lethargic yesterday. Now it’s Monday and tomorrow I’m back at work.
It’s not unusual at this time of year to recall Easter’s past. Fr many years Easter was a big date in the calendar for me because every year I would join my family for the weekend down in our holiday property at Yarck.
We must have done it a dozen years or more in a row until it seemed routine. It was a good-sized house that could sleep a dozen, and there was a cabin as well, which is where I would stay. There was a beautiful in-ground pool, a tennis court, and up behind us some tranquil, rustic hills in which kangaroo and wombat would roam. And up the road was pretty Mansfield, which most years we’d visit for the annual fair.
That was life. At the start of the year I could look ahead and map out the things I knew would definitely happen. Besides Easter, there was Mother’s Day, and of course Christmas, as well as each of our birthdays being celebrated as a family, and the random occasions in between for barbecues and dinner and just lazy days drinking wine in the sunshine. I knew nothing else than that – and now I know nothing of it.
I looked forward to our Easters. We all did. Besides mum and my stepdad Fred, my sister with her family would come, as did my step-sister with her family. Each of us was responsible for cooking a meal during the break, and mum would allocate to us the different things she wanted us to bring with us. Generally, I was tasked with bringing cheese. I would also take a couple of good bottles of red knowing that we’d drink those plus another 10 bottles or so, as well as a slab or two of beer. We weren’t going anywhere so we ate well and drank fully.
The Easter break always seemed to mark the transition for summery Autumn to wintry Autumn. It coincided more or less with the end of daylight saving and so the dark came sooner, the days were cooler, and with the exception of the occasional sunny and warm day, the pot-bellied fire would be on constantly.
Naturally it being Easter and with all the kids there we would have an Easter egg hunt on the Sunday. With customary delight my mum would hide hundreds of mini eggs around the property, assisted by the ever amiable Fred. We would race around searching for the eggs while mum watched on with pleasure, occasionally giving hints “warmer…colder…hot, hot, hot…”
How you take something like that for granted. It seems like another life now. That’s one of the things I’ve lost – not just those occasions and that life – but my understanding of it. It’s all gone and with it – for me – has gone a sense of innocent, even naive pleasure. It’s as if I can never be naive again, and as if between where I am now and where I was then is an insurmountable barrier. I grieve, not for those times – times change – but with the fear that I will never be as carefree and ‘naive’ as I was then.
I fear I have become battle-hardened. For years I denied I was tough, but there’s no doubt I have been toughened. I sensed it in ways on Saturday night when I realised I had not the patience or the will to be what others want me to be. I can’t do things simply for appearance sake. If it’s not in my heart I won’t do it. I won’t join in to be conventional – I’m happy to stand apart. In a way it’s quite selfish, but then you wonder why it is we should play along with things we don’t abide? It’s a blunter way of being, but very authentic. I think that’s locked in now, and while it seems a matter of simple honesty, I wonder what I lose by being that.
I look back and my dear old mum is dead, as is Fred. I don’t speak to my sister, her husband is dead, and I lost my step-sister – who I was close to – in the disastrous days after my mother died. By comparison, it’s a bleak landscape and I don’t really know how to change it.