Easter was always one of two major annual family celebrations in our household when Diane, mother of my three daughters, was alive. Christmas was the other, but the essence of it – remembering Jesus Christ – was dulled by December’s commercial Christmas cobwebs.

Now, years after Diane’s death, the Easter season has become for me just a time to think back about my family’s traditions that have all but disappeared.

But one is still alive! It involves bread.

One of my favourite cousins is Kathy Penner, an excellent Mennonite cook. Fortunately, she and her husband Lloyd kept me on as a single friend after Diane went to heaven.

Kathy still bakes Paska – sweet bread – at Easter time each year. This year, halfway through Lent, I got a poignant phone call that put a lump in my throat.

“Remember you have to come and get your Paska.” It was Kathy on the line, whose call brought a flood of memories.

All through the years since 1965, when I first brought Diane to Winnipeg from New York to introduce her to my huge extended family (including cousin Lloyd’s clan), Kathy baked a Paska for us, and if she forgot to tell us ours was ready, Diane would call Kathy Easter Saturday to ask where was our loaf.

“In the freezer,” Kathy would say, accompanied by an invitation to come over for coffee that afternoon.

Now I swallowed the lump out of my throat.

“I have not picked it up yet,” I said.

“I think I’ll wait until Easter Saturday afternoon when, in your company, I’ll remember Diane and her host in heaven.”

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