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Saturday, March 22, 2008

My Grandpa

The holiday of Easter has been bringing on several memories of my Grandpa, John Kochrian. He passed away about 7 years ago and when this time of year comes around, I often think of him. Every year, my cousins and my brothers and I would go to my grandparents' house to decorate the massive amounts of hard boiled eggs my Grandma had slaved over for hours. Considering the fact that I have never really been a huge fan of eggs, I had always wondered what the hell we would do with all of those eggs later. Egg salad? Egg salad sandwiches? Deviled Eggs? Potato salad with eggs? Egg salad? Didn't I already say that? Yes I did and that is because you tend to run out of options after the first two. So, what usually would always start off as being a fun afternoon with the cousins, ultimately ended up becoming work. The whole house would always smell like vinegar. Each of us would get a few of our own coffee cups full of colors. We'd start by putting one egg in at a time in the cups in front of us and eventually use crayons to make special designs that would bleed through the colors when the dying was done. After about 30 minutes of actually putting forth effort into our projects, we'd notice that the tower of undyed egg cartons had barely gone down. We were in for a long day if we didn't start getting to work. So, we'd always have about 12 wonderfully decorated eggs and the rest looked like a graveyard of colors (like the soft drink mix). Once where we would keep one egg in one cup for up to 5 minutes to get a deep rich color, we now had two eggs in one mug and would transfer each egg from one mug to another and then another. It took hours before we finally finished and were now exhausted. Looking back, I suppose it was a trick my parents and grandparents put together to wear us out so that we would pass out for the day early and they could get to work on pulling all their recipes together to use all those hard boiled eggs. Also, to prepare the wonderful things that would await us in the morning.

The part that was my Grandpa's favorite was definitely Easter day. When it was time to start hiding the eggs, Grandpa would send us off to the park for at least an hour. That's right, an hour. Sometimes it would be much longer. Since we didn't have cell phones for our parents to call us and let us know when to come back, they'd leave us there until they were done and someone would drive down to pick us up. To fully understand the complexity of the Easter Egg hunt within my family, you must visualize a little girl (me) who would cry EVERY Easter...from the time she was about 4 until she finally gave up all hope at the age of 13. There is even a photo that my parents have to document the torture that I endured every hunt. When the parents would pick us up from the park and we'd pull into the driveway, all of our peering eyes would look everywhere we could to see if we could spot any to get a head start on everyone else. I'd always spot maybe 2. Did I mention there was a lot of eggs? Yeah, and I could only see 2. When we were released, I knew I was screwed because if I spotted those two, then so did everyone else. And they always did because I'd go to those spots and the eggs were gone. I SUCKED at Easter Egg hunts. I'd be looking around with my empty bag and spot my cousins and brothers with their bags overflowing. WHAT WAS WRONG WITH ME?!!! Well, I have come to the realization that it wasn't entirely my fault.

My Grandpa had a funny, yet cruel way of hiding the eggs. He would often do things as sinaster as digging a hole in the garden, place the egg in the hole, cover the hole with dirt, and then covering that spot enough to make it look like the surrounding area. He also had taken a piece of wood from the wood pile that was perfectly lined up and place an egg towards the back. He would then place the piece of wood back in its spot keeping it flush with the rest of the wood. My Grandpa had always made the eggs most difficult to find worth more than ANY of the other eggs. They were worth $1. Yes, $1. I'm sorry, but if one of us had actually found any of those eggs (which we didn't until YEARS later), you'd think they'd be worth $100. Think of the holes you'd have to dig. Think of the many pieces of wood you would have to pull from the wood pile, one at a time. Nope, $1.

Do you see how mean he could be? Actually, it is something that I fondly look back on and love to tell people about because it brings a smile to their face at how much he clearly enjoyed this holiday. It is one of the things that I miss most about him. My Grandma and I were just talking about it the other night and laughed over our conversation. Even though I'd have a tough time each Easter Egg hunt and would cry every time, overall it was always a great day for all of us, especially my Grandpa. When we would be looking for those eggs, he would walk around wearing a nice pair of slacks, and a short sleeve button up shirt, a sweater (depending on the weather) with his hands in his pockets bending down, letting us know with his smile whether we were close or not. I never ended up walking away empty handed, so I always managed to get some of those smiles in my direction from him. He loved seeing us get excited about finding one of his horribly difficult hidden eggs. And he'd laugh. He'd laugh when we found one of those eggs because he knew how ridiculous it was and yet one of us actually discovered it.

This is Farrah's first year to have an Easter Egg Hunt and it makes me a little sad that she won't get to experience that with my Grandpa, but I have decided that she will experience it with me. It was an important holiday to my Grandma and Grandpa, not for religious reasons, but because of family. I miss him.

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