For over the past ten years my mother has hosted the annual Easter Egg Hunt at her home in West Los Angeles. When Zack was two it started and he’ll be 14 next May. Zack still took part this year, decorating one egg with twelve stripes, for the same length of time Alex and Samantha decorate their twelve. But when Zack was a babe, and for Alex a few years after that, they both took part in the annual “hunt”. But it’s not a normal hunt; it’s slightly more amusing, especially if you’re watching this bizarre family.
We sneak the eggs out of the little tot’s basket over and over again. We have learned that the average Easter egg hunt last 2.3 seconds. Maybe 4.2 if each child has a designated color to collect. But, in my family, we’ve been lucky enough to only have one kid under six at a time. This year was Samantha’s year to try and figure it out.
Alex, the middle cousin, took the adult task over. He deftly stole out a few of the “already found” eggs from Samantha’s basket to re-hide them as we took our annual stroll around the corner. The remaining adults had to keep her attention on finding more eggs. This year I caught several photographs of Aunt Charlotte and Granny stealing Samantha’s eggs and tossing them behind their backs to a waiting Alex that would then run ahead and re-hide. Alex had the brains to hide some of the eggs up high and suggest that I hold Samantha up to get them. While I tried, sometimes taking up to three staged lifts to reach the top, Alex was able to retrieve and re-hide more eggs. Samantha was in single-child give-me-all-of-the-attention heaven.
Then Samantha mentioned her basket seemed a little light. Next she suggested that the Easter Bunny himself was re-hiding her eggs. The third time she almost caught me as I rolled one up to mom’s next door neighbor’s lawn! Now this is no big surprise to any of our group as we’ve seen our little ones go through this three times now. But Samantha, being the youngest, and the only one left to figure it out, made us a little sentimental.
Samantha loves attention from Alex and Zachary. But this year Dad was working, Uncle Terry was napping and Zack was trying to play Granny’s only computer game on a four-inch screen. I believe that Samantha knew sooner than she let on because, in her own four-year-old way, she seemed to want to make our last memories…well…last.
Later in the afternoon we all talked at the same time over scrambled eggs with bacon bits. Mom insisted on planning the whole brunch so there were enough garlic and onion bagels to go around, her own version of homemade and canned fruit salad and inexpensive champagne. We talked about how her neighborhood had changed. How her Magnolia tree had to be cut back to accommodate the low hanging telephone lines. (Today by Charlotte who, retreating, had been hit in the head by a wayward branch.) Halfway through my Mimosa I got sentimental again and asked if I could peruse the old garage and den for memorabilia I could take home with me.
The garage was cleaned out. The den the same. It looked like someone had robbed the old place. Even mom had to get up and look with me when I came back empty handed. Where was the oil painting I had picked out for our old living room when I was four? Where was the clay squirrel that used to adorn the front porch, and worse than that where was the rock that said, “please turn me over” on one side and “thanks” on the other?
Mom had collected a ton o’ stuff through the years and couldn’t come close to guessing where it had all gone. She, like myself, assumed it was still there, just better hidden/lost. Then she said she was seriously considering selling the old house and buying a condo with less space but the idea of packing and moving was even more daunting to her. Even with help she still had too much stuff. My heart quickened with the thought. More memorabilia? Maybe some stuff was still around, we just needed to move other stuff to find it all.
When we had first moved into that house thirty years ago we found a bomb shelter under Mike’s closet floor. Old canned food and a radio had still sat on the shelves. I had forgotten all about that until now. I wonder if the people that lived there before we did remembered it was there?
How ridiculous. They’re probably not even alive anymore. They’re not four-years-old, forty-one or sixty-seven. They’re gone. I’d live to think they’re in condos too, but can you imagine them looking down on their old home and catching us stealing those eggs? I hope we have something so family-ish to look down onto some day.