An Easter gift

Easter heralds in Spring, and the renewal of the earth. Once again the land turns green, even in our part of the “desert.” With this come thoughts of my most memorable Easter. It was 1944 and wartime World War II. Churches everywhere were packed to capacity.

It was then that I was a choir member of the First Presbyterian Church in the Logan section of Philadelphia. It was a very large and beautiful structure, with a huge balcony, and enormous floor area. On the alter stage were dark mahogany high back chairs where the officials who presided over the service were seated. Behind them was an entire wall filled with pipes for the organ.

We had just been seated after giving our voice to our anthem, when I suddenly felt a stirring, a movement inside which, even though this was my first pregnancy, I knew my baby was moving. I grabbed the hand of the lady sitting next to me and whispered in her ear that I had just felt my baby move. She smiled at me, and I noticed a misting in her eyes.

Looking back now, this sweet woman I thought to be a lot older than I was probably in her late 30s or early 40s. She had two small children with her, a boy and a girl. After the service, she hugged me, saying how happy she was for me. I thought this somewhat unusual, that is until I heard her story later from another member of the choir.

This sweet woman had four natural pregnancies, and all four ended in stillbirth. It was after the last one that she and her husband had decided to adopt children. There isn’t an Easter Sunday since that time I don’t remember that day when I felt my first son move within me. I also mist up, remembering that lady who so exemplified womanhood despite all the hardship she had endured.

I was also thinking today about how fortunate I am to have five wonderful sons. Each has brought me so much joy over the years, as well as the usual problems as they grew into manhood. One memorable early Christmas morning was when Doug, my second son ran over to the Christmas tree and exclaimed to his older brother “Donald, get your bike out of the dining room!”

Looking around, Doug shouted, “Wow, there are two bikes.” Only then did he realize that he now had a real big boy red bike with chrome wheels of his own, and wouldn’t need to share Donald’s bike ever again. For all of you who have watched the movie, “A Christmas Story,” I can only describe Doug’s bike moment as being equivalent to this movie’s Red Ryder BB Gun.

Then there was the time my fourth son Dean was a member of a newly formed children’s choir at our local church. The children wore the usual gowns with white blouse type things over them. Each had a large red bow tied neatly around their neck. One really platinum blond boy, my son Dean bounced his head in time with the music as he sang.

The congregation was in hysterics the entire time. Rather than being upset, it’s my most adorable memory of Dean growing up. He never knew what a success he’d been back then, and few in the audience seemed to notice any off-key notes as the children sang. Perhaps it was the loveable distraction of that rosy-cheeked little boy with the platinum hair, the one with the bobbing head?

One morning about 15 years ago, I got an envelope with a brochure inside. It was from a Masonic Lodge in California that stated my oldest son Don had become a 32nd Degree Mason. I was so proud I cried! I’m a member of the Masonic Eastern Star, and both my father and second husband Van were Masons, as well as Doug’s grandpa Hill.

Over the years, special memories of my five sons seem endless. Each is special, each one is unique, and each is endowed with special attributes. Most of all, at this Easter time of year, I thank God for the birth of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice he made for all of us. That special birth, above all others, is the one miracle that continues to change and better so many lives.

Edna Van Leuven is a Churchill County writer and columnist. She may be reached at


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