It has been grey, restful weather. This past weekend my niece graduated with a Master of Science in Biology from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, Virginia. Due to my mother's health and one son finishing his semester, we had not planned on attending. I think my sister wanted me and my three tall guys there as protection against her ex-husband and the woman he married. The new wife has influenced my niece's own father in ways hurtful to both my sister and my niece. My guys and I tend to be righteously protective of them, so it was with divided heart that we did not go.

In a long string of odd stories, with truth often being stranger than fiction, this past Easter took the cake, literally. My niece had come back from dancing for peace in Jerusalem, with the conviction to be "The Repairer of the Breach, the Restorer of Paths to Dwell in", feeling she first needed to restore the relationship with her earthly father. When she asked my aunt-like advice, me not wanting to see her beautiful spirit crushed yet again; I cautioned her to no avail.

She spent Easter with her father, his new wife, her sweet 8 year old step-sister who adores her, and the dog they bought that triggers my niece's severe asthma and allergies. Amidst other weird happenings, my niece told me Easter dinner was cooked lamb, organic vegetables, and a gluten-free, dairy-free cake in the shape of a tomb with the rock rolled away and light emanating from within.

In my mind, I'm thinking, isn't Jesus considered The Lamb of God? And eating a roasted leg of...well, Jesus or lamb on Easter seems a bit macabre for otherwise overly zealous Christians? While trying hard not to be judgmental and/or laugh, just pondering this information, I asked my niece how the cake tasted, whether the icing was at least chocolate.

She laughed and said, "I wish. It was grey. Grey icing. Do you have any idea what grey tastes like?" I imagined dirty snow or the grey in cigarette ashtrays, the grey of hulking battleships from war movies and harbors. I couldn't imagine grey icing.

So, on this greyish day, I was going through my mother's frequent buyer, exhaustive files of Hallmark cards, trying to find the most cheerful card possible. I enclosed a few old photos of shared vacations, a check, and a hopeful magnet with a quote about not worrying. After discovering a page of stickers, I covered the back of the envelope with "You go, girl!" and "You're the Best!" stickers, doves, daisies and hearts.

While doing this, I found an empty envelope with my father's handwriting on it, "For My Marian". The last card my father bought for my mother, left unsigned because just before that Saint Patrick's Day he ended up in the hospital, dying during the night. The words in the card were not his, nor was I able to find a reliable source. They are however, incredibly romantic for a grouchy, dying mathematician who had been married to my mother for 54 years:

"Close your eyes and dream with me-

Picture a cottage by the sea

On a misty morn in Ireland-

There we would wander, hand in hand,

In a garden where red roses cling

To ancient walls and linnets sing-

Your tender smile would speak to me

In sweet and silent poetry

Until green hills turned twilight gray,

Until there was no more to say-

Then you and I would lay a fire

Kindled with kisses and desire,

And we would know the wild delight

Of Irish love on an Irish night."