April 22, 1984 was the worst Easter in history. Well, at least it was for me. When I reached my father’s bedside at the hospital, I was in tears. Upon my arrival, I was totally disheveled. My hair was standing on end, more people saw the slip underneath my dress than I dared to think about, and someone nearly ran over my felt hat.
In January, my father was diagnosed with cancer. He was in a lot of pain by the time he was first diagnosed, but it was too late for chemotherapy to help. Dad was a spray painter for Fruehauf Corporation. The paint fumes and the two packs a day cigarette habit caught up with him. By the time April came, the cancer had spread to several areas of his body. As all children who have had terminally ill parents or relatives in their lives, I hoped for a miracle. Besides, I am a good friend of God. We know each other very well. Surely my prayers for healing will be answered.
Easter morning, I woke up and got ready to go to see my dad. He had asked my mom to have a puzzle book brought up to the hospital so that he would have something to do. Since it was Easter Sunday, I decided to put on my new dress. It was black with a white collar and it buttoned at the waist. There were no other buttons to keep the dress closed, because of the way it was designed; I wouldn’t have to worry about being indecent. I put on high heeled black dress pumps. To keep me warm, I wore a burgundy coat that came to my waist and zipped up the front. I had a matching burgundy felt hat with feathers to top off my ensemble. Admiringly, I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked good. My dad will surely be impressed with how pretty I looked for him.
The wind had picked up during the night. By the time morning arrived, there was quite a gale. It was tornado season. Even though I live in Indiana, we still get a lot of wind whenever there are tropical storms or tornados anywhere in the country. I climbed into my car and headed to St. Joe Hospital. My car rocked from side to side as the wind pounced upon it. The parking lot for the hospital was located across the street. I found a place to park after having driven around the block several times. The door of the car flung open wide when I pulled on the handle. As I emerged from the vehicle my hat started to lift off of my head. I quickly grabbed it and held it down tight. The wind blew the flap of my dress open and exposed my slip underneath. Thank goodness I had a slip on that day; otherwise a lot more than a slip would have been exposed. With my other hand I tried my best to keep my dress closed, with my purse and my dad’s bag hanging on my arm too. Another strong gale came along and the hat flew off my head. I watched in horror as it rolled down the street, imagining that the hat would be smashed at any moment underneath the wheels of a car. Several cars had swerved, narrowly missing my hat. I ran as fast as I could to get it, all the while trying to hold the flap of my dress closed, which proved to be useless. My hair was swirling about my head like the funnel of a tornado. I wasted my time styling my hair that day. I should have gotten up straight out of bed and came to the hospital. Surely, I couldn’t have looked any worse than I did just then. After retrieving my hat from the middle of the street, I focused on getting inside as quickly as possible before another gust of wind swept me away. I was very upset by the time that I got to my dad’s room. Tears were flowing down my cheeks as I handed him the bag and left without saying a word. When I left, he called my mother asking what was wrong with me. She was clueless.
When I arrived back home, my mom met me at the door. “Charles called here wanting to know what’s wrong with you”, my mother said to me as I walked into the kitchen. I told her about my ordeal that morning with a lot of detail and exaggerated emotion. Then I went upstairs to my room so that I could change my clothes and maybe cry a little more. There would be no going to church for me that Easter Sunday, because, that day, I was a drama queen. I am sure that my parents had a good laugh though.