This week would have marked my mother's 80th birthday and as the day passed, I chuckled knowing how much she would have hated being that old. The entire occasion made me pause and think about how we remember our departed once the other side of the parenthesis is closed. And what I came up with is that the totality of a life lived is less about accomplishments and a great deal more about the stories we tell.
So, on this 80th birthday, I started digging around in the odd pile of stuff that I inherited. I was looking for a story. I was
looking for a story that could produce the essence of my mother. In a box that would otherwise look like junk to anyone outside my family, I found the small details of my mother's life. I knew the story to every item in that box. When woven together, these stories filled in the rich details between date of birth and date of death.
This funny bird is one of the first items I dug out of the box. He is a clip on Christmas tree ornament from the 1920s and I know his story by heart. Mother would drag out the decorations the week after Thanksgiving and as the tree neared completion, which took awhile since nearly every ornament had a story, she would finalize the scotch pine masterpiece with this little tin bird. The story was always the same, "...you know this bird was my grandmother's and she bought it at the Heywards up on Hollywood Boulevard the year she got married. It is very bad luck to put up a tree without a bird. Christmas trees should always have at least one bird on the branch or bad luck will follow you, like a flock of pigeons on a pumpernickel trail, into the new year."
My own Christmas tree is blessed with many birds and I am happy this little fellow has joined the flock. Soon my son will know the story of this little bird...told over and over and over.