AND THEN AGAIN by Tamara Pettit

….Apologies to the 2020 Teacher of the Year, Jessica LITTLE. I melded the names of two great teachers together, Jessica Little and Megan White, and identified her as Jessica White in the photo ID. I promise to do better next time, but we all know I’ll screw up again somewhere down the line.
……Make sure you make your thoughts known on the way you think the American Recovery Act Funds Hancock County will receive.
…..A tradition is a tradition because you do it on an annual basis during a certain season. My annual Easter interview with Roberta Rabbit is a tradition. We’ve had a lot of upheaval lately in our family as of late, so I hesitated to write it this year. Funny thing about this column, however, if I just start putting words on paper those words lead me to the place I need to be. And, so did my latest chapter in the world of Roberta Bunny.
I spied a crocus in my yard and the tiniest bud on a tree last week. The temperatures were creeping up towards 70 degrees and it suddenly hit me….Easter was on the horizon. How could I have been so remiss? I hadn’t yet done my annual interview with Roberta Bunny and her exuberant family. It was time.
Can it have been 40 years since I interviewed the then Easter Bunny’s spouse? I must confess that her initial interview was a mistake. I was just in search of a subject for a column and as a young, harried working mother I choose the obvious on Easter week. Yep, Peter Rabbit. When I trekked up to the bunny hutch on the hill behind New Cumberland instead of finding the “man of the hour” I discovered “the woman of the day.”
What began as a mistake, however, turned into the expose’ of the year as I discovered that Roberta was really the one who made Easter happen while Peter was just “fluff & stuff.” Hard-working Roberta was boiling eggs, making chocolate bunnies and digging jelly beans out of her shag carpet while tending to the baby bunnies while Peter was hopping to and fro and taking all the credit. It was the end of the seventies and I distinctly remember two things about that interview: I fell off my platform shoes on the way down the hill and a great anger over the inequity began to brew.
I wasn’t alone in that anger because when I journeyed back several years later women’s liberation had caught up with Roberta. She was no longer a stay-at-home bunny, but had morphed into a public relations bunny. She, in fact, was not only handling Peter as a client, she had signed on the Tooth Fairy, Baby New Year, Mrs. Claus and Mother Nature. The baby bunnies were in day care; she was having Easter catered; and she didn’t have time to talk. She was making up for lost time and was “hopping” as fast as she could just to stay in one place.
I could relate. What began as a purely professional relationship soon evolved into a long friendship. I watched Roberta grow into a modern, professional bunny who left the bunny hutch behind only to cherish some of what she’d left behind and return to home to start her own newspaper. Roberta had come full circle.
Of late, I had met her grand bunnies and learned of their adventures in a world we hoped was free of boundaries and gender bias. Last Easter I had focused my attention on the third generation of bunnies, the grand-bunnies. They were four diverse young bunnies now each traveling her own path. The oldest Hillary had found her calling in teaching; gotten her master’s degree and settled in her own home. Abbi had married; was still working; and was poised any moment to give birth to the 4th generation of bunnies, Madilynn Grace; California Katie Pettit would soon graduate from the San Diego University Law School. The ever- competitive bunny, she was first in her class and was on her way to Los Angeles where she had accepted a position in an environmental law firm. She was going to change the world. Maggie had graduated from college with a bachelor’s in music and contemplated her next step after COVID interrupted her career and her travels.
But my radar, refined to sniff out stories, steered me to a new bunny hutch and the bunny who had received the least attention over the years. Yep, Shannon, Roberta’s own baby bunny was in a new place in many ways. She had increased her skill set tremendously and was flourishing as the editor of the newspaper, but life had thrown her a curve ball as it often does. She was on her own again; coping with a new job in addition to editing the newspaper and relocating to a new house. At age 50, the future was daunting to say the least.
She answered the door, her puppies scampering behind her. Boxes were stacked all over the place.
“Hey,” she said, abruptly, not at all like Shannon. “ If we’re gonna talk, we’re gonna work. Come help me unpack.”
“ I can make it on my own. I can do this,” she mumbled as she stuffed pots into the cabinets. “While we are each a novel, sometimes we don’t write the next chapter in our book of life” and “She remembered who she was and suddenly the game changed. ” “Sometimes good things end so that better things begin.”
Oh my goodness, she was reciting every self-affirming quote I had ever heard about strong women going through a tough time I was so impressed I joined her singing our Seventies anthem, “I am woman hear me roar. I am strong. I am invisible. I am WOMAN!”
“Seriously,” she said, “ Were you a suffragette? Just how old are you?”
OK, good, Her sarcasm was still intact.
And, then just like in the movie “Field of Dreams,” it happened. As I looked behind her, I saw Roberta who had forged her own path, the four grand bunnies and in the distance I could hear the future cry of Madilynn Grace as she declared her entrance into the world. In the far, far distance I saw her Grandma Margaret and I shook my head. It must have been an illusion.
It wasn’t an illusion. The presence of the women whose strength inspires us; whose love comforts us; and whose promise gives us hope…. was palpable in that moment.
“You are not alone,” I pointed out “We’ve all got your back.”