As I washed the dinner dishes and looked out of my kitchen window onto my balcony, I noticed something moving in my planter box that was filled with colorful spring flowers. The planter box perches on the balcony railing several stories up and sets the scene gazing against tree tops, rolling puffy white clouds and patches of blue sky.
At first I thought leaves were aflutter in the light breeze but then as I leaned in closer to the window, I was making eye contact with very dark, very round and very serious-looking eye-balls. I walked outside, quietly tip-toed up to the planter, but at a two foot distance, and came face-to-face with the eye-balls that sent a message, loud and clear, “Don’t mess with me, lady!” I leaned in closer and suddenly jumped back as a loud flapping sound scared me!
I was surprised to watch a bird fly out of the planter box and sat perched on the rooftop of the next building. I intently watched the bird as I felt the bird was watching me. We had this staring contest that went on way longer than I imagined because I could not figure out why this bird was so intent on keeping an eye on me. Then I took a step and looked into the planter box to see two little snow-white eggs snuggled in the dirt.
I looked over to the rooftop, smiled and heard myself say, “Ahhhhhh.” as mama bird kept me in her line of sight. I realized Mama Bird was startled as I came near so she took flight but her intensity to keep me in her view was to make sure I was not going to hurt her nest so she could continue to protect her babies.
Then out-loud, I heard myself say, “Wow! The cycle of life continues and Birdie May’s granddaughter has come home.”
Some 20 years ago, in another house, my kids and I watched a bird nest and hatch her eggs for about six weeks. It was the month of May and we took to calling mama bird, Birdie May. And now Birdie May’s off-spring was doing her motherly duty.
Several hours later, Birdie May returned and has been there ever since. I check on her daily and she still eye-balls me but I stay far enough back so she does not fly away. My kids responded with the same “Ahhhhhh” when I took a picture and texted it to them that Birdie May had come home. The Cycle-of-Life.
And as cycles continue, just a few days after my bird encounter, it was the day before Mother’s Day, another life-cycle ritual, full of each family’s traditions. Ours is to plan a day for me, my kids and grandkids to be together but also to leave time for my daughter’s and their children to have their special time. We brunched around the pool at my youngest daughter’s home enjoying home-made breakfast crepes and then dessert fruit crepes in the delightful spring Bay Area weather! Lovely!
After several hours we all had to scatter for various activities. I had to cook for a family who was having a graduation party the next day—catering parties is a pleasure of mine! But I had a sad ache in my soul as it was Prom Night for my 18 year old grandson and he and friends were gathering to take pictures at 4:00 and I so wanted to see him all dressed-up but didn’t think I would be finished cooking. I didn’t want to compromise the dishes I was preparing so I didn’t hurry but I HAD to see my grandson in his tux!
I kept asking myself WHY I needed to see him before the Prom as I knew I would see lots of pictures. I couldn’t find an answer but just knew I would be really unhappy if I didn’t get that glimpse of him. When I finished my catering work and saw that it was too late to go to the picture session I realized I wasn’t far from the high school and could race over there and try to find him before the busses left for the San Francisco venue. (So pleased that high schools hire busses on Prom Night so kids aren’t driving!). I was really excited and called my daughter to tell her the solution I came up with and her comment was, “Oh, mom! You might embarrass him if you go to the school!”
“Hmmmm?” Wouldn’t want to embarrass him so I decided I would go anyway and just sneak around and snap a picture without him seeing me! I was so relieved when I did arrive before all the busses. I found myself weaving in and out of hundreds of red-carpet teenagers dressed to the nines! I felt sleuthed-like but I was so determined to find this 6-foot-3-inches of my water-polo/swim-team star little boy that I used to diaper! Maybe that was it! He is my first-born grandchild and it was only yesterday that I rocked him, heard his first words, urged his first steps, walked him to kindergarten, encouraged every stroke in the pool and became his biggest fan for life! I had to see him!
After walking around for 45 minutes, I got information that a few busses had already left as they were staggering the departures. I felt tears well up with a deep sense of disappointment. As I started to walk back to my car, I heard a loud, “Butzee! I’m soooooooooo glad you’re here! I just got here!”
I was elated that I had not missed him and then the piece-of-resistance; he grabbed my phone from my hand, gave it to his buddy next to him and said to his friend, “Hey! Take a picture of me and my grandma!”
I swooned! I cried the rest of the day! It was a moment I will treasure the rest of my life!
Later that evening a thought came to me about life cycles, how they keep coming around and around and around. The players may be different, like the first Birdie May and the new Birdie May and my son going to the Prom so many years ago and now my grandson. In a few years it will be my three granddaughters going to their Proms like their mothers. Births, birthdays, bar/bat mitzvahs, graduations, weddings, deaths. Life-cycle observances/commemorations. Happiness/Sadness. Around and around and around.
I see the message/take-away of my week’s experiences is to embrace these events with joy, keep the snap-shots vivid, feel blessed for the experiences in life and accept that what keeps going around and around and around as a piece of good fortune that I am still around!
As a Baby Boomer Bubbe who still feels 18 but has four grand kids to prove this is the 21 Century, Sandra writes to leave a legacy for the next generations. Her belief that these precious kids need to know their cultural and family’s past in order for them to live their future is all the muse she needs!
She has a Master’s Degree in Psychology and Cross Cultural studies, has written a family history, personal memoir and is completing her first novel.
Her grandmother’s journey to America and life is her source for her deep belief and love for Judaism.