Sunday, March 07, 2010

Little Glass Birds

Growing up, I was lucky to have the love and support of all four of my grandparents. They were all happy and healthy and were amazing role models in their own ways. Coming of age during the Great Depression, they took those experiences with them into the future, and their lives were decidedly marked by their childhoods. I believe that my parents, and now my brother and I, are the people we are because of the actions and sacrifices of these amazing people.

I have many, many stories about my grandparents, but this particular one is about my mom's mother. We called her Mimi. My eldest cousin, Holley, started calling her that. I don't know how it came about - perhaps it was because she couldn't say "Grandma" - but my grandma was, and will forever be, Mimi.

Mimi loved birds. She loved watching them outside on her bird feeders, and she collected tiny little bird figurines. Some were ceramic, some glass. She displayed them on a cubbied display shelf in the kitchen. I used to stand on a kitchen chair for what seemed like hours and examine all of the little collectibles and figurines within. I remember their beauty and delicacy. I never touched anything for fear that I would break one.

When I was still young, Mimi was having horrible headaches. During her eventual brain surgery, she suffered an aneurysm. This triggered a stroke which left her paralyzed on her left side. She didn't retain much of her memory and she couldn't walk. She recovered amazingly well over the years, but I never really got to know my Mimi as I wanted to. I knew her when I was a little girl, never as a teenager. Never as an adult.

I know that she knew who we were, though. Even when she was calling my mom "Gertrude" or some other random name that would enter her mind, I really believe that she knew what was going on.

And her little birds remained in their places in the kitchen.

She passed away in 2000, and my papa eventually removed them from their kitchen cubbies. I'm sure that it was just too difficult for him to be reminded of her like that. These tiny figurines - little more than decoration to the unknowing eye - were cleared away. My papa replaced the cubbies with models of antique car, his favorite collectibles.

One day, I asked him for a few of the birds, and he gladly and lovingly handed them over. Now they sit on my windowsill, catching the morning light and reminding me of my Mimi. My papa gives me a little glass bird for Christmas every year now, and I display them all together on the windowsill.

Every time I look at my little glass birds, I think of my Mimi and my Papa. And every time, I remember how lucky I am.

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