Easter is supposed to be about the miraculous but promised resurrection of Jesus Christ, right? Yes! But I didn't know that as a child and so it was all about the chocolate bunnies and jelly beans. But not the black ones or the red ones, they were just gross!
For a little context 8 months earlier Tony and I met our birth father, Mike for the first time. This is a long story and worth telling in its' entirety but not here, another time.
We were just 10 years old.
8 months after meeting Mike, on Easter Sunday morning of 1982, I sat on the high stoop on the back porch dressed in my Easter best. I remember it vividly, I wore a yellow taffeta and satin dress, white gloves stretching clear to my elbows, white tights on backwards, I am sure, patent leather shoes and an obnoxiously cute white and yellow Easter hat with a huge bow. I. Was. Waiting.
My Daddy otherwise known as Mike, bought them for me at the most beautiful department store my little eyes had ever seen. Chappell's. He purchased these outfits because Tony and I had nothing appropriate to wear to church. For whatever reason, he was determined to take "his children" to church. He bought Tony a suit and tie and new black shoes.
Truth be told, I felt beautiful for the first time ever in my short life. I could never remember any time before or after feeling beautiful. That moment in time stood still for me. I’d also never been to church before, I just knew it was where people who believed in God went.
I never felt beautiful because, the kids at school used to ask me if I was a boy or girl, because Mom kept my hair short and I had one of those faces I needed to grow into. I had large lips and small eyes, with a tiny head. Mommy always said I was beautiful but I never believed her. The kids always found plenty of other things to pick on me about, but this one seemed to hurt most. I could write a short book just on this topic, of bullying and it's effects. For now, I'm sticking to the topic. Easter!
But to me friend, on that day, their voices calling me ugly were silenced and there was no doubt if for just that day, I felt like a princess and looked like one too. I smiled from ear to ear, as I stood on toilet and stretched my body to the small mirror that was on the front of the medicine cabinet. All I could see was my face, the hat and the very top of my dress. We didn't have a full length mirror and I didn't dare go into my mommy's room and risk waking her up to look at myself using her dresser mirror! I felt beautiful, the clothes made me feel that way, so it must be true.
Oh how I wished those nasty and mean kids from school could see me in those clothes, they’d never call me a boy again.
So as I was waiting for My Father (Mike), to come pick Tony and me up for Easter Sunday church, I realized I didn’t even know what that really meant or how to act. I had never recalled ever going to church and I didn’t understand what the Easter thing had to do with church, but I was excited. I knew I was in a church when Mommy got Tony and I baptized, but that was it and I was only an infant when that happened.
With Mike, I began to let my guard down as we spent more and more time with him. I was ready to call him Daddy and I was going to start that Easter day. Somehow, I knew that would make him happy and I knew it would make me feel good too! I'd spent ten years without a dad and confused about it all. Tony was coming out of his shell and no longer surrounded by all girls! Mommy said it was good for him! It would be nice to feel accepted, for both of us. Mike was strict though, he handed out spankings like candy on halloween, was sometimes really loud and always seemed to make us work, but he wasn't mean, not like Mommy was.
As, I sat on that stoop waiting for him to come get us, growing more and more anxious, I dared not move. I was afraid if I moved I'd miss him and he'd not find me. A strange fear looking back, but very real to me at that time.
As I tried to encourage myself, I reminded myself that my first love, Jessie used to show up hours late too. But he always came when he said he would. Jesse was Mommy's boyfriend and the only real father I ever knew or had up until that time and for many, many years after.
But I knew, somehow deep within me, the anxiety that built told me, that I knew Mike was NO JESSIE and that he wasn’t coming! The dread and panic that began to rise inside of me, devoured the joy and anticipation I had felt only a few hours earlier!
A short time later my thoughts were abruptly interrupted by Mommy calling for me and telling me to go to Sue's house to pick up Easter baskets. Mom told me when I got back, that she had gotten a call from our next door neighbor Sue. Sue said “Carol, Mike dropped off some Easter baskets for the twins and he said he won’t be picking the kids up today.”
Now that I knew he wasn't coming, and left the baskets the night before, the despair and confusion rose transformed into self-contempt for believing him and as it gripped me, and anger towards him. So, I angrily yanked off every layer of Easter clothing, furious at myself for having hope. I think I threw my basket, or at least I wanted too.
My mother said nothing. She sat silent, expressionless. Hard. Cold. Hungover. She rocked back and forth in her chair, drawing deep breaths from her long brown cigarette. The rocker squeaked from the weight of her and my heart from the weight of the rejection that was crushing it. Tony was silent. I cannot even imagine how this devastated him.
So, after demanding that my mother give me and Tony a reason of why he did this and her inability to satisfy me with the run of the mill excuses every single parent tries to give their heart broken child when Daddy doesn’t show up, I picked up the phone and called him. She didn’t stop me.
I’d be the strong one as always. It wasn’t really that I had the courage to make the call, it was to not do so meant the agony of my mind wandering in/out of scenarios. I couldn’t stand it! Why would someone who went to so much trouble to prepare us for this special time together, just drop off Easter baskets and then ditch us. Maybe he’d have a perfectly good explanation. Maybe Sue didn’t remember the whole message. She was a drunk anyway and everyone in the projects knew it. It wouldn't be long before they would start talking about Mike leaving us, too! Poor folk gossip up a storm, it helps to pass the time.
The phone didn’t ring many times before he answered and before I could stop myself from calling him the new name, I said “Daddy, why aren’t you coming?” He paused and then said without a breath of hesitation, “Tammi, I'm not coming, I’m not your father, I don’t know who your father is, it could be anyone really, because your mother is such a tramp,. Go ask her!” Then he hung up.
I don’t know how I knew what that meant, but I did. I was furious. But, I also believed at the same time that it was my fault. He after all rejected me, not her or even Tony in my mind. If I had been good enough, sweet enough, pretty enough, he would have adopted me.
My Dad adopted his previous wife’s son Mark, who was not his blood son. He adored Mark. It must have been I wasn’t good enough, he wanted more kids. Blood wasn’t a pre-requisite. He adored Tony too, he even mentioned how much Tony looked like him. I knew it wasn't Tony's fault. But somehow this was all my fault!
The stories didn't line up but I didn't have the critical thinking skills I would've needed at that time to make any kind of sense of it. Lies were being told, but I didn't know by who. So I became furious with my mother. I knew she was liar, maybe she lied about this too? I confronted her and it did no good. She just made it all about her and then shut down, never acknowledging the loss Tony and I would experience.
For years, until I became a Christian, I hated Easter. It was the demarcation of one of the most painful memories and days in my life. I operated from that rejection for over 30 years. I made decisions from that experience and it almost destroyed me completely. I left a path of destruction everywhere I went.
When I became a Christian on April 22, 2004 it was during the post resurrection season, the 40 days before Jesus ascended to the Father. I didn't plan this. God did. This would be the start of the healing journey and understanding Easter for what it really was and is. It would take time, but I would come to trust "The Father". It has become my favorite of the Christian celebrations!
Mike did eventually come back into our lives, almost 10 years later and our relationship became a decent one, with lots of healing and time needed. We would also be blessed with a half brother and sister, and a wonderful step-momma. We had 22 years with Dad, before he passed. By the time of his death, I no longer looked at him for what he did to us, but for who he was. Another sinner saved by grace, through a Heavenly and Perfect Father who loves us and gave his son for us. I'm grateful that our story didn't end that Easter Sunday in 1982. I'm even more grateful that God sent his son, to be a bridge, for my Dad, for me, my brother, and my mom and for YOU too to be reconciled to him and even to one another!
It was because of what Christ did for me, that I was able to receive Christ and truly forgive my Dad. I no longer act from a place of rejection but from acceptance. I pray during this amazing season, you would seek God and whatever it is you think can never change or be healed from, delivered from, etc and give it to Him and watch the miracles he will perform as you trust and obey him!
He loves you and so do I. Resurrection isn't a day, it's a person and his name is Jesus Christi and He's waiting for you!
He is RISEN but He DIED for YOU!