Easter Wishes

Jim Burroway

March 23rd, 2008

Easter and her Easter Lilly, 1925My great-grandmother was born on April 10, 1898. That just happened to fall on Easter Sunday, which is why her parents named her Easter Mary Nash.

Easter was a very important person in my life. I called her “Easter” and not grandma because she said she wasn’t old enough to be a grandma. She was pushing seventy when she said that. She also hated to be defined by any label, which may be another reason I called her Easter instead of grandma.

Yes, she was a remarkable woman. She was a working woman in the 1920’s and an entrepreneur throughout the rest of her life — at a time when women simply didn’t do these things. Living in Appalachian Ohio, this was doubly unusual. She hated being told that she couldn’t do something. More often than not, she’d take such a statement as a personal challenge and she’d go out of her way to prove the challenger wrong. She took up oil painting and she got a short story published, all because someone told her she wouldn’t be able to do it. The only challenge she didn’t meet is that she never learned to drive. It didn’t bother her though — that was my long-suffering great-grandfather’s job. And besides, she was a great story-teller and she loved to regale her audience with the hilarious misadventures of her lone spin (literally) behind the wheel.

But that small failure didn’t slow her down. Easter took pride in being an independent and shrewd business woman. She operated shoe stores, and she owned a grocery store and rented houses all over town — all on her own. She was also told that women couldn’t do these things, but she proved them wrong as well. You’d be tempted to say that she was a feminist but she’d just scoff at you for it. Remember, she didn’t like labels. And furthermore, I never heard her talk about politics. The only political statement I ever heard her offer was that she thought JFK was very sexy. Other than that, she regarded feminism as silly and politics boring. She just couldn’t be bothered. Her only interest was in the things that she wanted to do, and she was determined never to allow anyone to stand in her way.

I guess you could say that Easter was a post-feminist woman in a pre-feminist world.

Easter and me, 1961Easter also loved the age in which she lived: 1898 to 1990. We lived just a few blocks from her house, and I’d often go over there and ask, “Easter, tell me about the olden days.” That would always get a laugh out of her. She’d tell me about her childhood and the many things she did and saw. Her stories were as captivating to me as any movie. And she’d always end with the observation that she couldn’t have been born in a more fascinating time. “I’ve seen us go from the horse and buggy to the moon. No one will ever witness a greater span of progress than that.”

My Easter was very special to me. She’s been gone for eighteen years and I can still hear the sound of her chuckle. As I grow older, I appreciate and honor her more and more. I hope your Easter is just as precious.

Regan DuCasse

March 23rd, 2008

Jim, just beautiful. So beautiful! The vintage pictures you have are marvelous. Thank you for such a moving tribute to your grandmother.
Brings a tug to my heart. My maternal grandparents were the only ones I ever knew. And their period was the same as your grandmother’s. Late 1890’s to late 1980’s for my grampaw. Grams, was the name we called my grandmother.
They had stories…oh, WHAT stories!
Grampaw was such a handsome, elegant and FUNNY man! Doing things too, no one expected them to do. My grandfather was a lightskinned black man from Hampton, VA…grams was a tiny, little native american lady from VA, too.
Imagine any of them surviving the Great Depression and/or Jim Crow (in fact, 11 aunts and uncles from both sides of my family died in childhood during that time.)
They lived in an era of incredible change for this nation. And through their eyes Jim, we are left with a hell of a legacy, aren’t we?
Lovely name to give a girl, truly.
Happy Easter, my friends!

Richard Rush

March 23rd, 2008

Jim, what a wonderful story and tribute to your great-grandmother!

I couldn’t help thinking about my own grandmother, and although she passed away over 30 years ago, I still miss her very much. Sometimes she is still in my dreams, and when I wake up I’m sad to realize I can’t really talk with her. She even had at least one thing in common with Easter – she took up oil painting later in life.

Occasionally I drive to the farm where she and grandpa lived when I was very young (I’m 63 now). I would spend many weeks there during the summers and many weekends during the school year. The property is now almost like a ruins, and the barn burned down long ago. I usually stop and sit for awhile and recall all the life I remember there.

Jeez, I’m crying as I write this. Few things make me as emotional as thinking about “Ma” as I always called her.

Have you ever seen the wonderful movie, “A Trip to Bountiful?” It’s been about twenty years since I’ve seen it. I didn’t just cry, I sobbed uncontrollably.

Thanks again for your story, Jim.

Craig L. Adams

March 23rd, 2008

Thanks for posting this, Jim. A beautiful tribute.

Timothy Kincaid

March 24th, 2008

Jim,

great Easter story. Thanks!!

Yikes

March 24th, 2008

that was heartwarming :)

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