Oma’s Birds

July 28, 2015


*One of my mother’s scherenschnittes from 1976, German for “scissor cuts,” which she created with her “good scissors” and a piece of black paper.

It’s been six months since my mother passed away. I think about her all the time. Sometimes I forget that she is no longer here on earth. I know this is a common experience, the impulse to pick up the phone to call her, and then the sinking feeling when I remember that I can’t. Still, I talk to her all the time and look for signs of her presence.

My last words to my mother, after I told her everything else I had to tell her, were “Send me birds to let me know you are with me.”

On the morning after my mother passed, the world was white with snow. While not nearly the blizzard they had predicted, there had been a significant snowfall. The bush outside my kitchen window was full of birds. There was no reason for them to be there. The bird feeder had been empty for months. I knew who sent them. “Thank you, Mom,” I said out loud.

The next day I was busy taking care of the kinds of things that one does after someone dies. People had to be called. Arrangements had to be made. Of course, there was paperwork. There’s always paperwork. I was working at my kitchen counter and could hear the cats running around, chasing each other, I assumed, “play-fighting” as they do. I ignored them and continued on with my day. Later that afternoon, I walked into my dining room and found a dead bird on the rug and I realized that the cats had not been chasing each other, but my dear mother’s little bird! How this bird had gotten in the house I don’t know, as the house had been closed up all day. In any other season, I do find birds and chipmunks in the house because I either leave the doors open or the cats find a way to open them. But in winter, the sliding doors remain locked and the garage door is closed, windows are shut. Somehow, my mother had sent me a bird and my wicked cats had killed it. “You killed Oma’s bird!” I yelled at them. After that, I asked my mother to leave the birds outside.

On Mother’s Day, my first without my mom, my children had arranged all sorts of lovely gifts, including breakfast. After eating, I went up to my room to set up the FitBit that my daughter had given me. As I sat on my bed, I saw a small red-headed bird fly up to my window, sit on the sill and peck at the glass. It was a baby bird and it stayed there for some time, wishing me a Happy Mother’s Day. Mind you, my room is three stories up, and in the three and a half years I have lived here, I have never seen a bird at this window. “Happy Mother’s Day, Mom,” I replied. “I love you.”

Silly stories, wishful thinking? Believe what you like. I know it’s my mom and I know she is still with us. Love does not get shared and then lost in a human lifetime. That love is forever and it is everywhere.


11 Responses to “Oma’s Birds”

  1. Gerri said

    Beautiful and moving, Karen.

  2. I call them “whispers of love.”

  3. Who are we to say there isn’t magic in the world? What a lovely tribute to your mother. And a beautiful image — it reminds me of my German grandmother’s paper cuts.

  4. leannelc said

    so glad you can feel your mum nearby still – and that cutout is beautifully done ~ Leanne

  5. Beautifully written. The summer after Dad passed away, a single sunflower grew at the end of the flower bed. No one planted it. It bobbed it’s head in greeting to Mom whenever she stepped outside. “Dad, is here,” she said. This year, a single sunflower appeared in my garden. “Hello, Dad.”

  6. Krister said

    Crows are wise birds. Wonder when she will send you one, and what you will learn…

    • When I was a kid, I knew a talking crow. He had a limited vocabulary but could keep a conversation with a 10 year old going for quite a while.

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