We spent the day with my parents and I found myself sealing today's emotions into my memory because it was such a significant day.
Easter, of course, is pivotal to the Catholic faith and while there is much to be considered spiritually from the past 40 days of Lent, the past 3 days of the Triduum and over the coming Easter Week, all of this does occur every year. While I battle through my own issues of religion and faith, the subject of family came into very clear focus. It's the first holiday we have spent together, the eight of us, since Christmas of 2002.
I adore my parents. This is nothing new. I didn't just realize this and they haven't done anything in particular to draw the statement out of me. It's a simple fact that along with my own nuclear family, my parents mean everything to me. From them I have been blessed with a love of music (and have always known I could never be as accomplished as they are), a love of languages (the same as above), a love of travel and a love of knowledge in general.
Music. My father learned to play the organ when he was a young boy. Since then, playing the organ in church has been integral to his life no matter what corner of the world he was in and for the past 15 years he has been organist and choir director at St. Michael's parish. It was a second full-time job to him with rehearsals, Masses and untold hours to meet his high standards. But playing the organ wasn't about "job" and "hours". It was about his passion for the instrument and his form of worship.
This Easter was a somber celebration for him as today was his last day as parish organist. For his own reasons he is taking a hiatus and I grieve for his loss just as he does. The organ is an extension of who he is and it will be an adjustment for him and for us as a family. The kids always look forward to going to St. Michael's. Nicholas conducts with grandpa from the balcony. Katherine just joined the choir, singing next to my mom with the altos. Rebecca was talking about how when she was 9 she would able to sing with the choir as well. Jonathon loves the pipes and going to the choir room where the water dispenser is. When we were in Manila, nothing was ever as good as "grandpa's church". Attending "grandpa's church" was a family gathering, a time to share, a way to connect.
We don't regularly say Grace, but when gathered together it's common to say a small prayer over our meal. At Easter dinner, Jonathon bashfully insisted on adding his own: "Thank You for us being at grandma and grandpa's house." No thanks for candy or chocolate bunnies or colorful eggs. Just simple joy for being with family.
As I kissed Nicholas tonight and tucked him in, I asked him if he'd had a fun Easter. He sleepily hugged his stuffed dog and settled his head into his pillow. His brother was snoring quietly next to him, too tired from a busy day celebrating, and in that quiet moment Nicholas told me "Yes, the most fun was being with grandma and grandpa."
I couldn't agree more and I'm so thankful to have children who treasure the blessings of family and togetherness. That's a gift no Easter bunny could every give.