Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Birdies

At my mother's 80th birthday shindig last month, one of my brothers gave her a gift certificate to use to create a video montage of her life. We were told that we would all be interviewed for the video, and that we could tell our beautiful memories involving mom.

"Oh shit!" i thought. "I'm fucked. How on earth will i be able to pony up beautiful memories?"

In my usual fashion, i put it out of my mind, as denial is my favorite state.

But last week, as i was cleaning my hairbrush, it came to me. Some happy memories involving mom. Oddly enough, they both involve birds too.

As a girl, i mostly maintained long hair, so my hairbrush needed to be depilated frequently. I always made a point to take the wad of hair outside to fly away in the breeze because Mom had told me the birds would use it to make their nests. The thought of baby birds peeping in a cozy nest insulated by my hair charmed me. I always pictured those baby birds as my hair was drifting away.

I had a bad accident as a child, and had to spend two weeks in a hospital. When i returned home, i spent quite a while recuperating in my bed. At the urging of my mother, my father installed a flat platform outside my second story bedroom window, where it could be seen from my bed. He nailed a shallow aluminum tray to the platform and filled it with bird seed. I spent many hours watching and being amused by the antics of the local bird population.

I'm ready when the video people come!

23 comments:

Daisy said...

Last year for mother's day I used an old photo of my mother and me as a three? year old as the basis for a small narrative about some key memories and how they have influenced the mother I've become. Thank god I did it last year, because this year it would seem like a maudlin "before you die" tribute. She never said a word about it, which suggests it had meaning for her.

This year, I sat to write a father's day card. With all that is going on with my mother's health, I felt like this was his turn for the tribute narrative. But I had the same experience. I sat with pen in hand, wondering what to write. I had a notion in the shower (I seem to get many of my best ideas when I'm naked) but forgot it by the time I was dressed.

Maybe I'll steal your bird thing.

furiousBall said...

Daisy said she's gonna steal your bird thing, I'm tellin'

de said...

It seems so unlikely that your mother suggested that bird platform. Huh. Good idea.

Seriously, I'd choke on that assignment, too.

Bob said...

I'm glad you remembered this - it is so easy to let the negative override the positive. A lot of parents have a hard time adjusting to an adult relationship with their children after the kids grow up. I bet your mom loved you in her way and there are more of these memories buried somewhere waiting to be resurrected.

The Real Mother Hen said...

She once held you tightly, helped you learn your ABC, taught you how to walk, ride your bike, saw you taking your very first bite and tasting something special, stayed by your side when you were sick - I remind myself these whenever I don't know how to handle my own my-mother-and-me relationship, despite I can't recall any of that special moments. Funny enough, suddenly everything seems so unimportant. She was there for me, more than once, before I could even comprehend ABC, and that was enough, more than enough, to keep me trying.

Magpie said...

i do the same thing with the hair from the hairbrush. i used to let it out the 11th floor apartment window when we lived in the city.

flutter said...

this made my heart happy

TaraDharma said...

I am now going to start doing this with my hair brush....I find nests all the time in my hanging plant baskets. It's a wonderful memory, Meno, borne out of a sad tale. A loving thing for your dad to do...and mom starting the ball rolling with her advice.

Steph said...

Nice! Not the part about you having an accident - the bird part.

fiwa said...

Good job - those are nice stories.

Mrs4444 said...

I had to do the same for my mom (her 80th is Saturday), and I found it difficult, because while we do have many, many great memories, we do not have an "intimate" relationship, so getting all mushy with her is weird. I decided to go the "Thank you" route and ended up with a very full page I am very happy with. I'm glad you can feel sincere about your offering.

Robin said...

very nice memories! here's to hoping for more...

meno said...

daisy, you have my permission to steal anything that helps. Interesting that you deduce that she liked it from total silence. Families! Sheesh.

furious, maybe you'll have to spank her.

de, thank god i had some time to come up with something. I would have totally choked had they tried to spring it on me.

bob, i have such a terrible habit of dwelling on the negative. It's nice to know that there are other memories in there.

mother hen, well, technically i think my brothers helped me learn to ride a bike, but your point is taken.

magpie, you too? How sweet.

flutter, birdies are something we can all love.

tara, hey girl! i still love bird feeders. I don't have one right now because i'm afraid it would become a cat feeder,

steph, it's a good memory. I think that feeder was up until we moved a few years later.

fiwa, i'm proud of myself for thinking of them. I can't just sit there on the video with my mouth hanging open like a fish.

mrs. 4444, it feels good to come up with something that is both appropriate to the situation, and fits my comfort level.

robin, glad you liked them.

nick said...

That's wonderful that your dad went to all the trouble of putting up the platform and the bird seed so you could watch all the birds. Sounds like he was a dad and a half.

Mrs. Chili said...

PERFECT! (though I have to say, I'm a little jealous; that's more than I've got to say for happy memories!)

Scott from Oregon said...

You're gonna give Mum the birdie











...........
story?

peevish said...

I'm so glad you have these sweet memories.

luckyzmom said...

I have lots of great Mom memories, but zero father ones, so I understand how uncomfortable this was for you. Good that you were finally able to come up with something.

When I got up this am I found a bird in our livingroom. It had to have been there since at least yesterday or before. It couldn't fly and I was able to coax it out the door. Then I read your post and will be doing my hairbrushes outside from now on.

Not that BIRD said...

Sweet memory. I wonder what your father's version of it would be?

Princess in Galoshes said...

Funny you should write this. I've been trying this new thing wherein every time I get the urge to criticize someone (usually behind their back) I force myself to say something nice instead.

Mostly it's resulted in a lot of good, pent-up snarky comments, but I thought it was a propos-ish.

Good luck on camera. ;-)

meno said...

nick, he had some pretty good moments. And, of course, some not so good.

mrs. chili, i had to struggle a bit for this memory. I think i will work to try and remember some more. I am sorry that you don't have any, but i know you are making some awesome memories for your kids.

scott, heh! Nice one.

peevish, as parents, we never know when we are creating memories.

luckyzmom, did the bird recover?

not bird, i'll have to ask him.

princess, i think i would explode if i tried to do that, but of course, it's a noble goal.

Andrea Frazer - Pass the Zoloft said...

That's a hard thing to do - make nice for someone you don't always admire. But it makes you a better person. (Whatever, I know... but it's true.)

sari said...

This is a great story!

Funny, I always think about that with the birds, too. I hate the pooping of the birds (we have some missile launchers around here!), but I like the idea that they're out there building nests and raising babies.

I'm glad you could remember this so you can be comfortable knowing that it's something you really feel good about.