Keeping Eggstra Busy

Lately I have discovered that life as the mother of a burgeoning adult about to graduate from high school and head off to college is busy. It involves college visits and research into housing options and fraternity opportunities. It requires increased organization and skillful prodding as the end looms ever closer and senior-itis casts long shadows over deadlines that threaten derailment of plans if allowed to pass by unanswered. There’s also the financial planning and the dogged encouragement to apply for just one more scholarship and the editing of essays penned by a person with little interest in revising yet one more time.

This was the egg hunt I provided for my children last year. Not long ago one of my sons asked if we were doing the same fun thing again this year. Mom for the win!

At our house it also includes long hours and dedication to a robotics team that will soon travel to compete for the second year in a row on the world stage, and the fundraising efforts that allow said team to take advantage of such an honor.

There are smaller senior trips as well and an upcoming last high school prom to prepare for. Graduation announcements need sending and a party needs planning and there’s family summer that needs scheduling around a new set of obstacles. And then there are all of the Easter eggs that need to be stuffed with treats.

This last one I thought was behind me as my children are both teenagers now and are not generally all that concerned about the Easter bunny. Alas, being the mother of a senior and also apparently somewhat of a sucker, I have found myself volunteering on the parent committee to throw a Grad Night celebration for the graduates.

In case you’re unfamiliar with Grad Night, it’s an over-the-top fun, all-night, drug and alcohol-free lock-in event designed to help burgeoning adults with not-yet-fully-developed brains celebrate and also avoid making stupid decisions that may get them hurt or worse on the night of graduation. Similar events are held all across the United States, including several very large ones at the Disney parks in both Florida and California.

Ours is not taking place at Disney World, but it will be fun. And it does take a lot of planning and an enormous fundraising effort to make it happen, which is why I find myself among a small group of moms, who are also suckers, busily stuffing thousands of candy-filled plastic Easter eggs.

Ozzie is not going to be helping deliver eggs, but he does make a super bunny ear model.

Because Easter eggs are a big deal.

People have been decorating eggs for millennia, predating Christ by a long shot, but the tradition of hunting for decorated eggs as part of an Easter celebration is generally traced to 16th century Germany, and possibly even to Martin Luther. Maybe. It does at least seem that eggs became a celebratory Easter treat largely because they were forbidden during Lent, and that Easter egg hunts, then, as now, were fun.

The tradition spread to England via the German-born mother of Queen Victoria who later continued egg hunts with her own children. In the United States, too, it was German immigrants who brought with them the egg hunt, which quickly spread across the young nation where eventually people figured out that eggs, while enjoyable to eat, are just eggs, but that hollow plastic eggs can contain candy, which is even more fun.

And then the idea for the Egg My Yard fundraiser was born. It’s turned out to be a really popular idea that finds me spending a lot of time mindlessly stuffing eggs so that my senior and I can don bunny ears and join with lots of other bunnies this Saturday to provide a fun Easter surprise for hundreds of families throughout our school district and surrounding area.

Image by Cindy Parks from Pixabay

It should be a great event. Grad night will be, too, and so will prom, and the robotics world championship, and the upcoming craft fair and two trivia night fundraisers that still stand between me and the end of the school year.

It’s a lot. But with the end of the year rapidly approaching, and the day looming when my burgeoning adult son will become a recent high school graduate moving into student housing and onto bigger and better things, I find I don’t really mind keeping busy.

The Oldest Senior Pictures Ever

In 1936, family historian Alva Gorby published a book no one but her family was likely interested in reading. She called it The Gorby Family: Origin, History and Genealogy. It was, as she claimed in the introduction “a very enjoyable ‘labor of love’” that required many years of collecting family memories, photographs, and lore, chasing down records, and verifying claims.

Hannah Stilley Gorby. This maybe wouldn’t be the worst country album cover. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Like any family genealogy project is bound to do, this one allegedly contains a few errors here and there, but it also includes something of great interest to the wider public beyond just the descendants of Samuel and Mary (May) Gorby. In its pages can be found a print of what is generally accepted to be the oldest living person ever photographed.

I should explain that further because there is a lot of confusion on the internet about just what is meant by such a claim. The photograph in question depicts a woman named Hannah Stilley Gorby, the second wife of Joseph Gorby, son of Samuel and Mary and it was taken around 1840, which would make it not the oldest photo ever taken by maybe about fifteen years or so.

If Alva Gorby’s records are correct, Hannah was born in 1746, making her in the neighborhood of 94 when the picture was snapped. Now, the woman was thirty when the US became a nation and ninety-four is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but there’ve been plenty of photos of people with more birthdays under their belts. Hannah wasn’t even old enough to get her picture featured on a Smuckers jar on the Today Show.

What Hannah Stilley Gorby can claim, however, is that of all the people ever photographed, she was first to have been born. Probably. Or at least maybe.

The problem is that the original daguerreotype of Hannah Stilley Gorby is lost to history and the most reliable support we have for the claim comes from the work of her amateur genealogist descendent who, let’s be honest, probably totally geeked out about her photographically famous aunt. I mean, who wouldn’t?

Probably not a very good country album cover. Image by Jorge Guillen from Pixabay

Because family history can be pretty geek-out worthy, like when you discover an uncle from five generations back who was a missionary physician with a pet orangutan and write a novel because no way can you make this stuff up yourself.

And family pictures are precious. I’ve been thinking about them a lot lately because my oldest son is now a senior in high school and we recently had a series of senior photographs taken of him. Like a lot of photographs.

We haven’t had the opportunity yet to sit down with my photographer friend to look through the proofs, but the shoot was amazing. My son, who was a smushy-faced newborn like yesterday, cooperated with every crazy idea (some of which he volunteered) from donning a suit and tie for a professional headshot to leaning flannel-clad against a fence post with his acoustic guitar in case he someday needs a cover for a country album.

I can’t wait to see how the pictures all came out because no matter what, I know they are photos of my more-or-less grown son, and are technically the oldest senior pictures ever of any of my children. That may not mean much to the general public, but you know that guitar pic is going into a family genealogy book one of these days for the benefit of my descendants, who will probably attempt to verify that he was a famous country music star.