by Del Murphy
My first Easter egg hunt was in 1957. A first-grader, I lived on a farm outside a small south Texas town. I had no clue about the concept of a bunny rabbit hiding colored chicken eggs in shrubs and clumps of grass. Our class was at Susie’s house where, after punch and cake, we were ushered outside to find as many eggs as possible.
Talk about culture clash. Susie’s house fronted a park in a middle class neighborhood. Our farmhouse was surrounded by two hundred acres of farm and brush land. My classmates scurried around looking for hidden eggs. I went looking for a chicken coop, as eggs were found in a hen house, not on the ground where coons and dogs could get them.
With no back yard fences, I traipsed across neighboring back yards looking for a chicken coop and finding none. Eventually an adult chaperone noticed me wandering aimlessly and retrieved me. She stifled a laugh when I complained there were no chickens around.
By the time I got back most of the eggs were cached in the children’s baskets. I wandered around aimlessly looking at the ground in front of my feet. Suddenly, from out of nowhere this blue and red striped egg rolled down in front of me. As I leaned over and picked it up, Susie complained, “Hey that’s my egg. It rolled out of my basket.” Nonplussed, I reached over to hand Susie her egg.
Then, seeing my empty basket, she said, “You don’t have any eggs, go ahead and keep it. She showed me how to find Easter eggs hidden by the Easter Bunny. She also confided she’d seen her mother coloring eggs the night before and was skeptical a rabbit was involved. She found another egg she charitably gave to me before.
Time was called, and the adults awarded a prize for finding a brown-shelled egg with a yellow “First Grade” painted on it. No one claimed the “Special Egg” prize, so the parents looked in our baskets and discovered I had it. This was the egg that had rolled out of Susie’s basket. I was the sudden center of attention and undeserved accolades. Susie just smiled and clapped along with everyone else as I received a chocolate bunny prize.
The grand prize was a pretty, decorated basket given for finding the most eggs. Susie was second, with seven eggs to Melissa’s eight. Already guilt ridden for receiving the other prize, I was appalled that Susie had lost again because of the two eggs she gave me. I stood in stark terror expecting her to exclaim that she would have won both prizes, were it not for me. She just smiled and clapped for Melissa.
It was 45 years later before I could manage to tell Susie why she remained so special to me. Her remarkable acts of selfless kindness, as a six-year-old girl at her Easter Party, had been with me that whole time.