Egg Boats

By Betsy L. Haase

No one knew at the 4th of July picnic that my husband of almost 25 years had just walked out the door less than a day ago. Everyone believed the story he had to work that day as my teenage daughter and I arrived wearing denim and patriotic t-shirts from Old Navy bearing our usual contribution to the potluck.

The night before, I boiled a dozen large eggs, peeled away the shells, split the eggs into halves, and mashed the yolks with mayonnaise, a dash of honey mustard, liberal amounts of coarsely ground pepper, and a pinch of sea salt.

Ta-da! There were the “egg boats,” a name my daughter christened them with when she was younger. Each displayed a small toothpick waving a paper American flag. I carefully placed them in a red and white speckled, enamel dish where they slid into each other, wobbling – like me.

I realize now, many, many years later that keeping up appearances was of the utmost to me. As I look back, I can hardly believe that I didn’t make my apologies and take a rain check much less skip the deviled eggs. But just like at that cookout, I kept my chin up and my mouth shut. I just couldn’t get the words out, and when I did, I was very private and only confided my news to a handful of very close friends.

When my husband left on the 3rd of July, I had run out for bakery bread. I returned in record time and in time enough to see him throwing his clothing into the back of his Ford van. I knew he was leaving; he had told our children the night before, but none of us knew when that might be. I don’t think he actually knew it until he finally did.

My world was spinning out of control as I went up to our bed – now my bed and sat down. It probably would have been nice to lie on the bed for the day at the very least, but I had a teenage daughter in the next room, and I could hear her sobbing.

I got up and went down to the kitchen to prepare what we call a “French lunch”– a little feast of this and that, whatever might be in the refrigerator, from olives to veggies to cheese to rolled-up turkey or ham. French lunch is served on fancy plates with glass goblets and special paper napkins.

That night we went to see the display of fireworks by the lake in our town.

That’s what I remember.

I didn’t give myself any credit in those early days. I questioned my every move, my every behavior, my every decision. I was pretty hard on myself.

But I can see now that I was trying to keep my life and the life of my children moving forward. We certainly all took huge backward steps from time to time with the changes in our family and in our home life, but we were faced toward the future. I didn’t see that then.

It has been a long time since that happened. My ex-husband and I have become very close friends – a blessing when raising spirited children. My daughter is old enough now to live on her own, attending her own functions and events.

Last summer, I hosted a little get-together around the 4th. When Emily arrived, she had prepared “egg boats”– complete with toothpick flags.

Making them does not stir memories of her dad or any leftover sadness over his leaving. Deviled eggs with toothpick flags is just what we do to signal the summer holidays because on these occasions we celebrate our family traditions and our time together.

About this writer

  • Betsy L. Haase

    Betsy L. Haase

    Betsy L. Haase is a retired educator. Her writing has been published in Victoria, The Philadelphia Inquirer, TeaTime, Edible South Shore, and Philadelphia Stories.

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12 Responses to “Egg Boats”

  1. Erika Hoffman says:

    Your first sentence grabbed me. The story keeps one’s attention throughout.

  2. Great story, Betsy!!

  3. Mary Ann Crimi says:

    Betsy, I loved this essay. It illustrates the inner strength of women (you!) and their power to keep tradition and family alive and well. Bravo!

  4. Tracy K says:

    The power within!!!

  5. Joanne Marinelli says:

    Loved your essay. It was a revealing story told with unflinching honesty. Our children keep us moving forward even when we would rather not. When we reflect back, we realize it was our best choice. Glad to hear you have given yourself the credit you deserve.

  6. Betsy Kenney says:

    You have captured the essence of this time in your life! Rather than focusing on the details of the event , you illuminated the future. Wobbling-like me – LOVE your comparison! Once again, I have learned through your writing.

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