Earlier this month, just before the Ides of March, there were two significant occurrences that I neglected to write about: the onset of Daylight Savings Time and my youngest son’s 21st birthday.
When these two events happened on the same weekend, for some reason I was reminded of another clock-moving-forward Sunday a few years ago.
Easter Sunday and the beginning of Daylight Savings Time both fell on April 4, 1999. This was also the day before what would have been our 20th wedding anniversary.
My husband Ed and I married in 1979, when we were in our forties. From the beginning, we knew we would never have a 50th wedding anniversary with the traditional big celebration. So we aimed for the 20th, when we planned to “party like it was 1999.” We warned our large blended family that it would be a big event, so they should mark their calendars and get ready for it. But, as life has a way of turning out differently than what we plan, Ed died in October 1996. I lost my companion and Phillip lost his Dad, three years short of party time.
So on the Easter Day I’m talking about, ten-year-old Phillip and I arrived at church at 8:00 that morning (having lost an hour of sleep). I sang withthe choir in the early service, taught a class, then sang again at 11:00. After lunch with friends, an afternoon of telephone calls from adult children and supper at McDonalds, I wanted nothing more than for Phillip to go to bed so I could sit and ponder my life and loss. Of course, whether it’s Spring Forward or Fall Backward, DST always messes up a kid’s bedtime. Eating a ton of candy eggs doesn’t help any. So, bedtime didn’t happen as soon as I wanted, and when he came creeping back into the living room after I thought sure he was asleep, I was irritated.
“What is it?” I asked, not too kindly.
Big tears welled up in his eyes as he said, “I made you an anniversary present.” He held out an old Happy Birthday gift bag, stuffed with the Sunday comics rather than tissue paper. I motioned for him to sit next to me in “Daddy’s chair.” When I could, I apologized for being crabby. From the bag I took out the tiny toy bear, a souvenir of a vacation several years before. I twisted the key and the bear clapped the cymbals frantically at first, then gradually slower. Our foreheads together, we watched until the bear finished playing.
That was eleven years ago. The toy sits in a special place in my room. A symbol of a little boy’s tenderness, generosity, and love.