STEVE CRAIN: Learning About Life At an Egg Hunt
My mother and I gathered with some children and their parents down behind the late Troy Burrell's house for a Saturday-before-Easter egg hunt in the early 1950s.
Troy and Floy Burrell's house sat near the paved road that ran in front of their rural Greenville County, S.C., residence. Their small yard with a circular red-dirt driveway slanted down toward a gray, unpainted barn and a creek that ran through their pasture.
Some trees and undergrowth grew next to open, close-cropped areas of that pasture, so grownups attending the Easter get-together had places aplenty to hide eggs.
Mother had hard-boiled and dyed some eggs -- we didn't have plastic eggs back then, as I recall -- and I, about five years old with straw Easter basket in hand, was ready for my first major egg hunt, sponsored by Gum Springs Pentecostal-Holiness Church. My parents, my younger sister and I attended that church, which met at the church house located a few miles from Troy Burrell's home.
I felt excited when the big folk finished hiding eggs and called, "We're ready!"
Youngsters scurried like chipmunks into the pasture area designated as our happy hunting ground for that afternoon. Mother sort of walked along with me. I couldn't see any eggs, so she gave me a hint.
"There might be some over there," Mother said, motioning toward a clump of grass near a tree.
Some big kids overheard Mother's hint, and before I could get myself in motion, that mob raced like a flock of starving chickens toward that grassy clump. They found several eggs in that area, and I felt angry.
No miracle happened that Saturday before Easter in Troy Burrell's pasture. No eggs miraculously popped into my straw basket. I had to get busy and find some eggs before the big guys got 'em all! I began learning some life lessons from that experience.
Here's one thing I observed: Mother wouldn't always be able to help me. A time comes when supportive mamas have to let children take their lumps. My mother didn't say a word to those greedy egg-rustlers who were quicker on the draw than I was.
"Tough guy" actor Michael Parks of the old TV show "Then Came Bronson" recorded a song written in 1925 by Joe Goodwin. That song contains these words: "Tie me to your apron strings, again. I know there's room for me upon your knee. Sing that cradle song to me and then, won't you tie me to your apron strings, again."
Do you recall that heart-rending song called "Suppertime" by Ira F. Stanphill? These words from that song always touch me: "Many years ago in days of childhood / I used to play till evening shadows come / Then, winding down an old familiar pathway / I heard my mother call at set of sun / Come home, come home, it's supper time / The shadows lengthen fast / Come home, come home, it's supper time / We're going home, at last."
I suppose many of us recall memories of mothers or grandmothers who gave us comfort, and we may have felt nostalgic about returning to a distant era and hearing their kind, encouraging words.
Memories can be wonderful and inspiring, but a time comes when our parents can't help us.
I also learned from that egg hunt that life is tough. I won't always find the most eggs, win prizes and stand in the spotlight.
Another principle I began learning at my first major egg-finding event is this: People, including Christian brothers and sisters, will hurt and disappoint me, and I'll be learning how to forgive them until the day I go to meet the One who showed -- and still shows -- us how to forgive.
Contact Southern Pines writer Steve Crain at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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