As I was taking a long walk this morning, I was reminiscing a distant past Thanksgiving morning and an early trip to Stew Leonard’s where I had ventured to pick up a needed grocery item. Half of Fairfield County used go to Stew’s on that holiday Thursday morning, long before Costco and Whole Foods arrived on the scene. Typically, it was a reunion of faces, memories and nods of recognition. The one I’m thinking of was in the mid 80’s and was actually the last time I saw Hilary alive.
Some years before, as I was working on details for packaging my eggs more elegantly, I was eagerly thumbing through The Black Book which was–pre-Internet–how one might find successful graphic designers, illustrators and packaging experts. When I came across the ad for Hilary Bunger Package Design I got that good-nervous intuitive sensation in my body. Yes! A woman will understand what I’m trying to do and maybe even lend a helping hand to a young artist trying to get noticed in The Big World.
I took a risk. I called the company line and asked to speak to Hilary. “What is this in reference to?” I was asked. I explained that I was making a career out of decorating eggs in the Ukrainian tradition and had run into a design issue around the packaging of these art objects. Before I ever learned how to use a Dremel tool to make perfect holes in the shells, through which I extracted the insides, I used a straight pin to pierce the shell and then painstakingly increased its size until I could blow it out. I was looking for a way to cover the unsightly hole that was left. I needed a solution, and preferably an attractive one. I was hoping that Ms. Bunger might share some ideas with me.
“You may be in luck,” said the voice which belonged to a son of Hilary Bunger. “My father happens to love Ukrainian Easter eggs and may be able to help you. Can you come by today at 1pm? He’s got an opening on his calendar then.”
Long story short, Mr. Hilary Bunger generously designed a gold label with my signature on it which ideally covered that pesky hole in the egg elegantly and efficiently. I don’t even remember if I paid him in eggs or if he even accepted anything but my thanks. What I do remember and what brought me to a big smile this morning, was the generosity of spirit that he extended to me that day. For the few years afterwards that we knew each other he watched my progress with joy.
Seeing that familiar face at Stew’s nearly 30 years ago popped into my mind and reminded me of what this life is all about. I could never pay Hilary Bunger for all he gave me. But, I hope that his power of example continues to inform how I give back today and always.