Passover Easter Egg Hunt

The whole Stephens–Smith–Blackett clan is gathered at the Smith residence for three days of Easter Celebration.  It’s been great so far!

Last night, Good Friday, we celebrated Passover with a Passover Seder designed by Jean and prepared and participated in by the whole family.  It was good and I think meaningful for us all to slow down and process through the ancient Passover meal with its rituals and rhythms.  The roast lamb shank, the charoses, the moror, the roast egg, the matzo, the chicken soup, and turkey!  The Israelites probably didn’t have turkey sandwiches on the way out of Egypt, but we took a bit of liberty with the tradition.

The explanations, the recitations, and the prayers were significant to the youngsters, even if they didn’t understand all the detail of it.  I’m not sure I understand all the detail myself!  We finished with communion and cake!

So this morning we took the grandkids on an Easter Egg Hunt.  Bethlehem Lutheran church, a sort of traditional mainline church in a very non-traditional Tacoma neighborhood hosted an “everyone’s invited” Easter Egg Hunt on the spacious church grounds.  The candy-filled plastic eggs were hidden in plain sight for the younger kids and on the fence, in the trees, and beside the “No loitering or trespassing” signs on the edge of the parking lot.

It was pretty clear that we were among the few “outsiders” and that most of the attendees were Bethlehem Lutheran regulars and their grandkids with a few neighborhood unchurched folks thrown in the mix.

The Easter Eggs, including a few Golden Eggs with prizes, were snatched up in no time and then we all gathered in the church basement for a post-hunt debriefing and to empty the plastic eggs so they can be used again next year.  Good stewardship!

One of the hunt organizers was making her way around from table to table welcoming the guests and reminding us all about the Easter Service tomorrow morning.  She said, “If you’re looking for a church, we’re looking for people!”  Makes sense to me!

Another lady approached Jean and asked if she’d had one of the cupcakes.  Jean said, “No thanks, I’ve had a cookie and some coffee.”  The lady said, “I baked them myself!” which in Bethlehem Lutheran is translated, “Eat a cupcake if you know what’s good for you!”  We shared a cupcake.  Bit dry, actually.

I think it was a good effort on the part of a group of mostly elderly, mostly introverted church people to reach out to the changing population of their changing neighborhood.  God bless them.  God bless Bethlehem Lutheran Church!

My Brother Bill

This weekend I got to see my younger brother Bill for the first time in about fifteen years!  During the time Jean and I lived overseas, Bill and his family lived on the east coast of the US in Pennsylvania.  Bill just moved back to the west side of the continent and is planning to settle in or near Richland where he lived a long time ago.

So a few nights ago, after we got back to the Tri-Cities from Clarkston, WA, Bill and his wife Linda came for dinner.  I had seen Linda much more recently than I’d seen Bill as we had met in Tacoma in 1998 at our daughter Stephanie’s home.  I had also seen Linda at her dad’s funeral in Port Angeles in 1995.

The thing that really amazed me is how much Bill and I are beginning to look alike!  Our ten years’ difference in age shows up less now than at any time we’ve ever been together.  Not so much hair and what there is remaining is white.

It was so good to have a few hours together to catch up on family stuff – hearing about Bill’s kids and where they are now.  Talking about my kids and what they’re doing.

We talked about mutual friends from long ago and updated each other on what, when, and where.  Bill is much more up-to-date on most of that, so I learned a lot.  There’s still so much to talk about that happened in my life during the years we lived in the UK and in Oregon since returning to the US.  And Bill has gone from being a mechanic for cars and trucks to maintaining and servicing ATM’s and other sophisticated electronic money machines.  And of course there’s all the things that have happened in other areas and relationships.

We’re not going to let it be a long time before we get together again!  We’ve already go plans underway for Bill and Linda to visit us in Bend and no doubt we’ll connect there in the Tri-Cities again before long.

I still am amazed at how much we look alike!  It’s great to be face to face again, brother Bill!

Bill Storey’s Memorial Service

My head is buzzing with all the new impressions, new information, and experiences from the weekend in Clarkston, WA for Bill Storey’s Memorial Service. And with all the old stories and family memories. And some tears and laughter.

Bill Storey was my wife Jean’s uncle – her Dad’s oldest brother. He was 94 when he passed away recently, outliving his wife Della by about six years. Because Jean and I lived outside the US for so many years, we only occasionally connected with the extended family, a couple of times at family reunions and mostly at funerals. So it was good to be able to be there with all the family this time.

Bill’s four sons, Dale, Ron, Roy, and Bruce were there this weekend with their families. Then there were families of families. Then there was Jean and me. Bill Storey was Jean’s uncle – Jean’s dad’s oldest brother. We went over to Clarkston with Jean’s sister Barbara and her husband Dan. It was good to have the weekend with Dan and Barbara and we came back to Richland and spent Sunday night with them after the weekend’s activities.

The Memorial Service was really good. The four sons shared stories of their Dad. His character, integrity, work ethic, and his faith were the most common topics in the stories we heard from them and others. Not a bad way to finish and not a bad legacy to leave behind. Well done, Bill Storey!

There were also several (noisy) meals together in nearby restaurants with 30 or more (mostly noisy) people catching up on family news and telling stories. I think I have a better picture of the Storey family and who’s who and what’s what than at any time in my almost fifty years of association with them and of being part of the extended “in-law” network.

It was really good saying goodbye to Uncle Bill (bittersweet) and saying hello to so many of the Storey extended family (sweet). Maybe next time we can connect at a family reunion instead of a funeral.