These past two weeks have been very special for many reasons. It seems like Spring has just exploded in all its glory with warmer weather, budding and in some cases flowering trees, vibrantly yellow daffodils which contrasted with our purple vinca are pretty spectacular and the many other plants which are starting to push through the soil. New growth, new beginnings abound.

Our bird feeders have a steady flow of colorful customers from the bird population. During the winter we did not see the gold finch or the rosy house finch – now they are regular customers. And thanks to an early birthday gift of binoculars from Maura and Paul I am enjoying the amazing bird colors as never before. I have always been slightly color blind – having a difficult time distinguishing the difference between black and navy blue. As I have gotten older the rich hues of colors do not stand out for me unless I get close. When Jerry would point out the red spot on the downy wood pecker it was not so evident to me. Now with the binoculars I am seeing all the bird colors in their Spring glory.

And , big news, last Wednesday and Thursday, Jerry and I both got our second Covid19 vaccinations. I was unprepared for the feeling of euphoria that this generated. In another eight days we will be finished with the waiting period that follows the second shot. As we inch back toward some degree of normalcy it has been fun to think that some of the restrictions we have been living under will finally be lifted. Since most of our family has been vaccinated it means that our out of town families will now be able to visit and actually stay with us. It means that the pair of sneakers that I so badly need I will actually be able to go inside the mall and purchase in person. I have become pretty adept at online shopping but my feet are not a typical size and require in person shopping. I have not been inside a mall in over a year. Another treat I am contemplating is getting a hair cut. My hair is now longer than it has ever been in my whole life. It has not been cut since a year ago March. This is a big deal for someone who has specialized in short hair for eighty plus years. Some days I like it long and some days not so much.

In the spiritual realm, the three days, the Tridiuum, leading up to Easter, April 4, were marked by meaningful ceremonies. Our church has truly mastered the art of live streaming and if those times don’t work for you, the ceremonies are recorded and available at a time that accommodates different parishioner schedules. It has been since March 2020 that we actually attended church in person. The streaming and the videos have helped to make this bearable.

The Easter Vigil service at our parish, St John Neumann, was particularly moving . Following health department protocols a limited number of parishioners were able to attend. The music, the liturgy, the sermon were all so powerful. I felt like I was there in person. I so clearly remember my mother in her later years – when her mobility was an issue and my priestly brother was not available to gift us with a home mass – my mother would watch mass on television. She got so much out of the experience. I just could not relate to being spiritually moved by a televised ceremony. But now, a year plus into the pandemic, I can.

In my childhood life attending a parochial school meant active participation in the religious ceremonies that defined holy week. I particularly loved Holy Thursday which I remember as standing room only attendance at the evening mass in our parish church.The grade school students processed up and down the aisles of the church. I seem to remember that the youngest students – the last to make their first Holy Communion – wore their attire from that special day. Older students were in cap and gown. Hands were clasped in prayer and there was devotional singing as we processed. I just loved the pageantry and the joy that emanated from that celebration. I certainly was a shy child but I thrived in this group activity.

Easter Sunday this year was full of blessings – aside from the spiritual blessings – there were the family blessings. We shared Easter dinner with our local families sitting outside on the patio around the fire pit. It was such a beautiful day there was barely need for the fire pit but except when the wood is very smoky, it is a soothing presence. Dinner was preceded by a family zoom – twenty-nine family members from California to Rome, Italy put in an appearance. Wanting to make sure we heard from everyone, we asked that each person, speaking for about a minute, share a happy memory. We know that it is not easy for everyone to share like that – even with loving family members. The words that were spoken evoked many treasured memories. We ended our gathering with “Let There Be Peace on Earth”.

The only jarring note in this special time was the two days I spent in the hospital as these special weeks began. I had an attack of acute Afib. It is my third attack in the last year and a half. There are two kinds of Afib – acute and chronic. With the chronic variety you frequently do not know that you have this condition – it is picked up on a routine physical examination. With my version of the acute variety I go in a matter of minutes from feeling great to feeling like I have been hit by a sledge hammer. Following the doctor’s instructions we purchased a blood pressure machine and when these episodes happen I immediately put it to good use. Each time it has shown numbers double and triple my normal heart rate. Jerry and I immediately head to the emergency room of our local hospital. This last attack was absolutely the worst and since I do not tolerate well the meds which would keep these attacks from happening, in about three weeks I will have a surgical procedure which should keep these attacks at bay. I hope so!

Today Jerry and I played online bridge with our cousin Jim in California and my brother Pete who was at his home in McLean. It was challenging and lots of fun. ( This is another on line activity that in person would be best but the online alternative is a good substitute.) We finished around 4pm in plenty of time to take a leisurely neighborhood walk. It was delightful and cinched for me my decision to go ahead with the surgical procedure for my Afib. The medicine route with its resulting muscle pain makes walking not so enjoyable.

Occasionally I like to read about aging to see if I can learn from the thoughts expressed. Recently I came across these words by Betty Friedan that resonated with me. ” Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength”.

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