(Note: This does not mean that any one honored in this cemetery has enemies. This story is about another cemetery many miles away. And no one there has enemies either.)
On Easter, Cathy made apple cake.
Cathy’s baking is an occasion anyway, at church and library events all over town. And on Easter her apple cake outdid itself with its buttery crumb topping and tender inside nuggets bursting with apple flavor. It took center place on the hospitality table, with its holiday spread of pastries, deviled eggs, bagels, breads, flowers, coffee and tea.
After the early Easter service, we sat savoring our conversation and our apple cake slices while the early spring sun touched down in beams on the bouquets and delicious treats. After serving a reverent and devoted Liturgy, Father brightened my day even more by discreetly slipping me a photograph on his cell phone, downloaded from the news of the day: In San Francisco that weekend there was a Passion Procession of devoted Catholics led by a Jesus with crown of thorns and carrying a cross; as he reached the top of the hill with his followers, they were met by the leader of another festivity, a group of gay men in bunny suits passing out candy eggs. In the photo, Jesus and the Leader Bunny are leaning on each other, completely breathless with laughter.
I reveled in the warm and friendly companionship of this church. My heart was still ringing after the beautiful service, ending with a soaring all-stops organ finale of “Victimae Paschali Laudes” (Here it is, by the way, played by the great Pierre Cochereau in Notre Dame Cathedral .) and the beautiful altar and flowers.
It was the first Easter after Mom passed away. Three months after her funeral I was here as a stranger, worshipping in her church in her little town, taking my mother’s place in her church pew. I even carried a beautiful studio portrait of Mom, taken just before she married, as a radiant girl of 21. I showed it to her friends as they shared warm stories and tears of remembrance.
Father did something lovely that day: knowing I was going to be in church, he chose and arranged a special bouquet in Mom’s honor. During the Liturgy, he stepped away from the microphone and said a few soft spontaneous words of gentle kindness, pointing to the flowers and describing how they symbolized Mom’s bright spirit, and how they had been donated by an enemy of hers.
Wait — what? I sat straining to hear every word, as he repeated this surprising idea. After the service I thanked Father for the talk. Not knowing that he had gone out and bought the flowers himself with his own pocket money, I marveled that even an enemy of Mom had nevertheless felt moved to donate these flowers.
“An enemy???” Father exclaimed, momentarily mystified. “I said anemones!”
I wish I could share that with her. She’d have loved it.