Updated: Jul 31
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, so it was all about the chocolate bunnies and jelly beans But not the black or red ones were just gross!
For a little context, eight months earlier, Tony and I met our birth father, Mike, for the first time. This is a long story and worth telling in 'ts' entirety but not here, another time.
Eight 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 vividly wearing a yellow taffeta and satin dress, white gloves stretching clear to my elbows, white tights on backward, I am sure, patent leather shoes, and an obnoxiously cute white and yellow Easter hat with a giant bow. I. Was. Waiting.
We were just ten years old—nine when he entered our lives.
My Daddy, or Mike, bought them for me at the most beautiful department store; my little eyes had Chappell's Chappell's. He purchased these outfits because Tony and I had nothing to wear to church. He was determined to take "his children" to church. He bought Tony a suit and tie and new black shoes.
I felt beautiful for the first time 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 alsI'dever 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 an odd-shaped head. Mommy always said I was beautiful, but I never believed her. The kids always found plenty of other things to pick on me, but this one hurt the most. I could write a short book just on this topic of bullying and its effects. For now, I'm focusing on the issue. Easter!
But to me, 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 the toilet and stretched my body to the small mirror on the medicine cabinet. All I could see was my face, the hat, and the very top of my dress, and, for whatever reason, we didn't have a full-length mirror, and I didn't dare go into 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 pick Tony and me up for Easter Sunday church, I realized I didn't even know what that meant or how to act. I didn't remember ever going to church and 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 would 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 was confused. 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 to get us, growing increasingly anxious, I dared not move. I was afraid I'd miss him if I moved, and he'd not find me. A strange fear looking back, but very real to me then.
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, 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 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 won’t be picking the kids up today.”
The reality that he wasn't coming, but that left the baskets the night before, confused me. The despair rose in me but 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 to.
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 her weight and my heart from the weight of the rejection crushing it. Tony was silent. I couldn't even imagine how this devastated him.
I asked my mother to explain why Daddy doesn't show up, but her excuses were not satisfying. So, I called him myself, and she didn't try to stop me.
I’d have to be the strong one. It wasn’t really that I had courage to make the call. It was not to do so meant the agony of my mind wandering in/out of WHY. I couldn't stand it! Why would someone who went to so much trouble to prepare us for this special time together, drop off Easter baskets and then ditch us? He had to have a perfectly good explanation, didn't he? Maybe she didn’t remember the whole message. She was a drunk anyway and everyone in the projects knew 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 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 because your mother is a tramp. Go ask her!" Then he hung up.
I don't know how I knew what that meant, but I did, and I was furious but, I also believed at the same time that it was my fault; in my mind he rejected me, not her or even Tony. He would have adopted me if I had been good enough, sweet enough, and pretty enough.
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 prerequisite. He loved Tony too; he even mentioned how much Tony looked like him. I knew it wasn't Tony's fault. But somehow, I just knew this was all my fault!
The stories didn't line up, but I didn't have the critical thinking skills I would've needed then to make any 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 a liar, so 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 in my life. I operated from that rejection for over 22 years. I made decisions from that experience, and it almost destroyed me altogether. 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 decent, with lots of healing and time needed. We would also be blessed with a half-brother, sister, three step-siblings, 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 was saved by grace, through a perfect Heavenly 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 thankful 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!
Because of what Christ did for me, 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 will 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 Christ, and He's waiting for you!
He is RISEN, but He DIED for YOU!