We would drive over the quiet country lanes in our family car. We had a beautiful new Ford station wagon, recently purchased by my Mother and Father. The vehicle could fit our entire family of seven very comfortably. We all sat with the windows down and the afternoon poured into the car’s interior. The April sunshine was warm and the sky had puffs of gigantic white clouds, which drifted seamlessly overhead. It was a perfect day to take his family for a drive, and Daddy looked happy and relaxed steering us toward a favorite place. On the Isle of Staten, or as most people know it, Staten Island, within its seven miles of length lies some of the prettiest landscape in New York. Private parks and a few mansions are scattered across the island, and we would admire them as the automobile drove slowly by.
We would attend the church most Saturday afternoons and go to confession. Afterward, we would drive around and enjoy the time together. Our parents converted to the Catholic faith shortly after my eldest sister was born. I believe they were raised Methodist and Presbyterian, and found a better fit in their adopted faith. We children were raised Catholic and we loved taking part in the observances and traditions. We embraced it. So, when Mother began singing some Lenten hymns, we would all join in. As we drove by, people would stop and listen to the blending of harmonies and sweet song coming from inside our family car. We really did sound beautiful, too. One of the places we passed was a pond which was filled with lily pads. They bloom in the daytime and the photos here were taken in the summertime. In April, the blooms are just beginning to make their appearance. As we approached the pond, our Mother would sing “Lily pad” and then each of us would chime in after, while she was holding her note, we would do the same. When we could no longer hold our breath, we would al begin laughing and our faces were wreathed in smiles. The was a little wooden bridge we would cross over and as the pond was growing smaller, out of the back of the station wagon, someone else would begin another song. We would spend about two hours driving and sharing song. It was personal. It was intimate. It was memorable, too.
After our country sojourn, we would visit Joe’s Pizza on Victory Boulevard. Joe made the best pizza I have ever tasted and one day I shall return to eat there again. Then we would head home to lay out the clothing we would wear to Mass the next morning. Photos would be taken and memories made. Visits to some friends’ homes and then back to our house to wait for Mama, Daddy and my eldest sister to cook the family meal. Really though, they had begun the day before. Mama would make punctures into the thickest parts on leg of lamb and have me place little garlic cloves inside. Back then I did not realize leg of lamb was from an animal. I had not yet connected the dots. Father would prep the ham and cut a design into the fat on top. Mother would have us help her remove the strings from the beans and snap them into smallish, bite-sized pieces. My brother would peel potatoes and my other sister showed me the rules and how to do things properly. She always took me under her wing. I was glad she liked to share.
Sunday afternoon was a matter of sitting in the living room watching a movie, or playing outside until I was called to come inside and wash my hands. We took hours over our meal and we talked and laughed. Later on we would sit round the television and eat the extraordinary pies and cake we were served. Our meal was delightful and perfectly cooked. Delicious doesn’t describe its perfection. Nothing can ever top those Easter Sunday memories.