The year was 1979. Thank God for my dear aunt by marriage; she invited me to make sugar eggs with her. My childlike delight escaped from my normal responsible confines imposed upon myself; I agreed to join her in that Easter’s endeavor.
We were elbow deep in sugar and decorator frosting for several weeks, commandeering the dining room table, her cookie sheets and oven, and the back sun room for most of the Lenten season. It was messy but absolutely wonderful! She was as delighted to show me the hidden magic “tricks” as I was delighted to discover the mysteries of these small egg panoramas!
I’d be taking some of my sugar art down to the Bay Area for the family, so I began thinking of one for my mother. For Mom, I would have to keep it strictly traditional in its splendor. That was easy enough, as we both appreciated the beauty of tradition and Easter in all its spring freshness. I mentally ticked off all the eggs I would need to make for my loved ones.
Like Rome’s architects, my aunt and I began with good intentions. Of course, my aunt’s hand was seasoned enough that she had little “wasted” frosting. The eggs and the frosting tips I soon managed well enough. However, after weeks of working with the colored sugar molds and frosting tubes, we began to tire of this project; the newness was starting to wear off; we were fast becoming “Eastered-out”. Our former disciplines gave way to creative, off the cuff, non-traditional panoramic works of sugar art.
We decided to personalize each person’s egg where at all possible. My aunt’s two little grandsons were playmates of My Only’s; we would use the three little plastic skunks and make a special trio of eggs for our “little stinkers”!!! The possibilities were endless and we soon succumbed to fits of giggles as we playfully continued to craft each egg. The more we tired during each day’s session, the more my Easter egg masterpieces evolved into original, silly subject centers, with only the leaves and flowers on the outside reminiscent of a traditional Easter palette.
It was time to create an egg for Daddy. I had one miniature ceramic horse figurine set aside just for him. With the addition of some small straw flowers, I placed a horseshoe shape of little red blossoms around the neck in a true winner’s circle fashion. A bit of frosting glue and VOILA! A Winner’s Circle Quarter Horse for all seasons! I could hardly wait for the car trip down for Easter dinner.
We arrived home for Easter weekend and discovered my father had been placed into the French Hospital in San Francisco for observation. I don’t even remember the actual medical concern. I was too upset to reasonably deal with the moment, and I sat in the kitchen on the Cosco Stool, crying and explaining to Mom that Easter just wasn’t going to seem like Easter without Daddy at the table. True to form, Mom was the strong one. She believed deeply that Daddy was receiving the best of care and that he would return home soon. She reminded me that we could go visit him at any time. As a young married mother of a three year old, I attempted to shape up somewhat so as not to alarm My Only. We soon left for the hospital with magazines and his green Easter egg carefully wrapped in hand.
To my relief, Daddy looked good, was in high spirits, and content with his treatment thus far. The French Hospital still had a good reputation at that time for keeping the older Frenchmen “happy”. Times were changing, but the dietician still allowed a small glass of red wine as part of a dinner tray if the patient’s health permitted it.
I presented my sugar green egg to Daddy. He donned his eyeglasses and peered inside…the little racehorse was obviously a pleasant surprise!
Boy, do you have my number! Think you’re pretty smart, huh Annette?
Extremely pleased with his response, I sat it on the side table with the get well cards for him to enjoy. While Daddy was filling Mom in on the details of his stay thus far, including his having “gone to confession” compliments of the resident French-speaking priest, the same priest appeared through the door, introducing himself to all of us, then began speaking to my mother who greeted him en francais. Mom was enjoying the opportunity to converse in her native French (Mom’s command of the language was that of the old country, despite her having been born in Livermore) so she didn’t notice my father beckoning me to the side table, nor did she hear his frantic directions in Pig Latin: Ix-nay the egg-ay! Ix-nay the egg-ay!
It took me a minute to understand…the egg was too fragile to nix per se, so I quickly turned the green egg around to face the wall. Only the frosted leaves and iced trim of its backside were still in clear view. The visit was no more than a few minutes at the most before the priest excused himself to continue making his rounds. Once the priest left, Daddy explained what this was all about. During confession, he’d told the priest
You can throw the book at me, Father
Daddy had taken communion for the first time in many years. He wasn’t so sure if his thrown book confession completely covered all his human flaws, especially his love for horseracing and gambling. The last thing he needed was for the priest to see that Easter egg. Obediently, I wrapped it back up and carried it back to Rubberneck Avenue for safe keeping. Daddy was going to be just fine…