HOME The Gift of the Hummingbird
Marilyn A. Kinsella
Hummingbirds are fascinating little creatures. They whirl around with flashes of iridescent colors. Their elongated beaks swish the air like miniature swords. They maneuver the skies with the ease of stealth bombers. Sometimes they appear out of the corner of one’s eye and then disappear in a radiant arc. No wonder so many people believe in pixies and fairy dust.
My mother believed in believed in pixies and fairy dust. She had an imagination that made shadows dance on the wall at night. During the day she could make petunias twirl around in their ball gowns. Her mother had beautiful gardens around the house and, while not helping with the chores, Mom spent many an hour playing in the gardens. It was her magical place.
Her favorite spot was right underneath the front porch. That’s where she and her brother, Les, used to hide and wait for the hummingbirds. The tiny birds were attracted by the big, bright red flowers her mother planted along the side of the house. She and Les positioned themselves under the porch for a perfect hideaway. They could see out, but the hummingbirds couldn’t see in. A lattice border was all that separated them from the little hummers. Their chubby faces, shone like a checkerboard of diamonds. They looked out anxiously. She and Les became very quiet. About four o’clock, they could hear a faint, distant hum. Then they came - a squadron of green, winged leprechauns dive-bombing out of the sky and into the heart of the red flowers. Invariably, they felt a giggle bubbling up, so they put their hands over their mouths. Now the giggles came out in a series of chortles and chuffs. Curious, one of the hummers might peer inside with its black, beady eyes. Then, in a wink…it was gone
Looking back I guess that’s why my mom always had a fascination with hummingbirds. When they became fashionable as gifts in the early eighties, Mom and I gave each other - hummingbirds. It might be something rather silly like thermometers and potholders or something sublime like sun catchers and delicate crystalline hummingbirds. Candleholders, plates, music boxes, scarves, paintings - if it had a hummingbird, we bought it for each other.
Our birthdays were only four hours apart. So, we often shared our birthday celebrations on the same day. We laughed hysterically when one year we gave each other the very same gold, hummingbird pin. Mom especially liked the “anything” cards with our favorite bird on it. Inside I’d write some trite poetry that made her laugh.
That’s why I asked her to send me a hummingbird after she died. Mom died in October of ’97. I carried a guilty feeling for having to place her in a nursing home. Looking back I still think it was the best solution to a very difficult situation, but that didn’t make my decision any easier especially, when she did NOT want to be there. So, that November, when I was crying alone in my bedroom, I said out loud, “Mom, I want you to send me a hummingbird. It will be a sign of forgiveness and that you are in a much happier place. And, by the way, hummingbirds are hard to find this time of the year, so I’ll know, if I get one, it will be from you.”
Well, days, and weeks went by and no hummingbird. Even on Christmas Eve I remember thinking, “I guess she’s still mad.”
Then on Christmas morning, I must have had twenty gifts at my feet. As per our family tradition, I selected one to open first as did the rest of my family. At the appointed moment we all opened the first gift of Christmas and there it was… a beautiful crystal hummingbird that sat on a flowered stem. At first I was speechless, then I started to cry. My family was a bit puzzled. Why was I getting so emotional over a hummingbird?
Finally I blubbered out, “You don’t understand. It’s from my mom. I asked her send me hummingbird.”
My husband, Larry, actually purchased the gift. He believes that a coincidence is a coincidence is a coincidence. That’s why they coined the word “coincidence.”
But he said, “I don’t mean to lend credence to what you’re thinking, but it was a bit odd. I already bought your toaster and shower - head and thought I should buy you something pretty. Suddenly, I thought of a hummingbird.”
“See, “ I said, “you were listening!”
“No, I was desperate.”
“Well,” I countered, “you may have been desperate, but you were also listening.”
Then he added, “But the really odd thing was, I had a hard time finding a hummingbird. I went to four or five stores before I found one on a kiosk.”
“I know because hummingbirds are hard to find this time of year.” If I needed another sign that the hummingbird was from Mom, that was it.
I’m glad my husband was listening when he heard that faint, distant hum. Listen! The next time you see a hummingbird think of that special woman in your life and the gifts she gave you. That way we can all share in the Gift of the Hummingbird.
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