When I was little, my parents would ship me off to my grandparent's farm in Astoria for the week leading up to Easter, every year, without fail. It was cool because Mom would put me on the Greyhound bus and wave goodbye. I always used to fantasize that I'd end up in New York and possibly become a famous model or actress, known for my shiny hair and awesome dance moves. But no, I always ended up in Astoria, population 1,193.
I should let you know, many traumatic events occurred over the years during my Easter weeks on the farm. Like...LOTS. I got my first period, killed the Easter Bunny, and inadvertently cause the death of several baby chicks, to name a few.
I killed the Easter Bunny when I was 8 years old, which is a very impressionable age, my psychiatrist tells me. A time when great psychological good, or GREAT PSYCHOLOGICAL HARM can take place. It was a balmy April evening, as I recall. Two days before Easter, so I guess it would have been Good Friday.
I quickly ran back and told my grandparents what I had discovered, and asked if I could have one of the bunnies. At that point my Grandma Josephine told me in her Very Serious Voice that I was not to touch the bunnies, EVER!!! Because if I did, their mother would know what I had done, and she would let them die. And then they would be dead. FOREVER. Because of me.
*GASP!* For realsies??
Me: "Can I just pet one?"
Grandma: "I said no and I meant NO!! Now get up into the house right now, and I better not catch you messing with those rabbits!"
As I trudged reluctantly up to the farmhouse, Grandma called after me, "And remember! The Easter Bunny's WATCHING YOU!"
I seriously doubted that.
Later that night, while Grandpa and Grandma were watching Hee-Haw, I snuck out to the bunnies nest. There they were, all snuggled up, so cute and cuddly! One of them opened his eye and winked at me, as if to say "It's ok, you can pick us up. Your grandma doesn't know what she's talking about, and we're not talking. Promise!"
I looked around the woods. I saw no mama bunny, but she could be hiding behind a tree, waiting to attack me.
|Shut up. I had a very vivid imagination.|
There was nothing to do but just pick one up. I grabbed the baby bunny closest to me and picked him up ever so gently. He was so cute and soft. I named him Henry. Henry and I cuddled for close to an hour, until Grandma called me back to the house. I put Henry back in his nest, swore him to secrecy and promised to come back the next day.
The next day was Saturday, and I could hardly wait to finish breakfast and go visit Henry. I ultimately planned on sneaking him back to Peoria in my suitcase, but he and I would discuss that later. I had to take his wishes into consideration, after all. And a trailer court might not be the best place to raise a rabbit. Some crazy drunken neighbor might kill him and eat him for dinner one night. I had much thinking to do.
I ran to the woods, and stopped short. My brain seemed to be short-circuiting. There was Henry's nest. But where was Henry's brother/sister? And where was his mother? And why was Henry laying there alone, ever so stiff and motionless? Almost as if he were...GASP!!!
I was dimly aware that Henry had passed on, but I had to make an attempt to save him. I had seen CPR performed on Emergency! and I had the basics down. But my love for Henry only went so far. I ended up waving the copy of Little Women I had brought along to read to him in his face, hoping that the air I circulated would somehow make its way to his lungs, thus reviving him. No good, Henry was a goner.
I then turned my mind to the next problem at hand.
My Grandma Josephine was going to beat my ass.
Of this I had no doubt. She had never spanked me in my whole life, but I'd never killed anything before either. I felt bad for Henry, but I felt worse for myself. Because of the ass-beating I was sure to get. It never occured to me to just walk away and play dumb, which would have been the best solution, looking back.
But instead I scooped up Henry and took him to the house. Grandma heard me wailing before I even got to the front yard, and she met me on the porch.
Grandma: "Well. What have we here, Child?"
Me (sobbing): It's one of th-th-the bunnies I saw last night!"
Grandma: "Uh-huh, I see that. And he's dead, isn't he?"
Grandma: "Did you go and pick that bunny up after I told you not to?"
But the worst was yet to come. My Grandma didn't spank me. She did worse. MUCH WORSE.
Grandma: "Well. You know what you've gone and done, don't you?"
Me (whimpering): "No."
Grandma: "Well, you've gone and killed the EASTER BUNNY!!!"
Grandma: "That's right. Now, tomorrow morning, every little boy and girl in the entire world will NOT get their Easter baskets, all because of you. Not even in France."
Grandma: "Now. You wait right here, and don't bring that thing in the house. I'll be right back."
Ignoring the fact that my grandma had just called Henry a "thing", I pondered my situation. I hadn't believed in the Easter bunny since last year, when I found my Easter basket while searching for the Girl Scout cookies in my mom's closet. I knew my mom had put this year's basket in my suitcase, I'd checked the second she'd left me alone with it. So did this mean I wouldn't get my basket? The one my very own Mother had sent with me? The one she wanted me to have? This was serious. But not as serious as what was to come. Because my grandma had a surprise in store for me.
Grandma came out of the house, carrying a big silver spoon and a brown shoe box.
Grandma: "Well, it's only fitting that since you killed the Easter Bunny, you should be the one to bury him. So you take this box, and this spoon, and you dig him a nice grave out back. And don't you come back until you're done."
At this, she turned her back on me and slammed the screen door after her. I was left alone. With Henry, a big spoon, and a shoe box. I sighed and made my way to the backyard.
And so I buried Henry underneath an old oak tree, told him I was very sorry I'd killed him and promised not to touch and/or kill any more animals. This promise was actually held until the very unfortunate "baby chick stampede of 1975".
Now, about my grandma. My grandma Josephine totally ROCKED. Now that I'm older and wiser, I realize she had a great respect for life in all it's forms (she just didn't want it in her dining room). She may have been a wee bit harsh, but it's a lesson I never forgot.
Don't F*ck With Mother Nature.