Posts Tagged With: grandmother

“Happy Birthday”


For some reason hummingbirds have always reminded me of my grandma (my mom’s mom) who passed away just over two years ago. I have this vivid image of her, one Christmas, wearing a gray, crew-neck sweatshirt with a hummingbird on it. It may have been her only one – but it is emblazoned in my mind that she loved the little bird and every article of clothing she had was adorned with a hummingbird.

That being said, every time I see one, I think of her. A few months ago, I was with my mom in San Francisco and we went on a wine tour of Napa Valley.  At our very last winery, tired and tipsy, we wandered into the vineyard. Off to the side was this giant flowering bush and I saw something flutter. It took me no longer than a nano-second to realize it was a hummingbird; and how appropriate, on this mother-daughter vacation on Mother’s Day weekend, (almost two years to the day of her death) to feel the presence of my grandmother in the form of this tiny bird.

~the winery hummingbird~

Now, more than ever the two are linked: the memories of my grandma to the image of the hummingbird. So it is no surprise to me that when I spent the day at my parents’ Lake House in Port Sanilac, MI that a hummingbird graced us with her presence there as well.

Every summer, the women on my mom’s side of the family, get together to celebrate their summer birthdays. Having a birthday in March excluded me from this intimate gathering until this year when I had the day off work, a need to get away to the country, and a desire to finally swim in Lake Huron; one of Michigan’s Great Lakes.

~lake huron~

After our first venture into the icy, (50 shades of) blue, water, we sat on the deck to dry in the hot Michigan sun. There, while toweling off, I caught my first glimpse of the Lake House hummingbird. We collectively gasped, smiled and in unison pointed to the spot where she had been. She zipped up to the feeder and I scrambled to capture her on film memory card. She was fast and sneaky. And I missed her. But I was patient.

After filling our bellies with hot fudge cream puffs with Sander’s hot fudge (a Michigan specialty) we sat back on the patio, looking out on the gorgeous lake. Camera poised, the hummingbird came back and was ready for her photo shoot.


~so still~


The small moments of seeing this hummingbird with the women in my family (the women who have helped shape, support and encourage me – and the rest of my cousins) who represent everything good and brave and inspiring, was an incredible gift.

At the summer birthday party, my grandmother was present. Maybe she was saying hello – maybe she just wanted us to know she was always watching, protecting, loving us. Maybe she wanted to say she’s proud of us and that she misses us too. Or maybe, just maybe, she wanted to say, “Happy Birthday.”

~happy birthday~



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Moments that Make Life a Little Less Ordinary


It was a long day at work. A typical Monday .

It was the anniversary of my gramma’s death. No one at work knew. I wore my ring I had had made with a stone from her wedding ring and she consumed my thoughts.

She loved coffee so on my way in to work, I stopped at Starbucks and savored every sip – a quiet tribute.

After work, I got home and changed into running clothes – seeking the solitude only a run and the road can give.

It was a gray afternoon with intermittent rain but that wouldn’t keep me away. I needed time out of the house, away from work, just me, the road, my music and the soft sound of my Asics splashing through the puddles that had been pooling all day.   I was tired. Every muscle in my body begged me to stop but I carried on lost in my thoughts, my memories. I was enveloped in the melancholy of the music, the dark skies and the longing for a hug from the one woman that wasn’t able.

As I splashed through a giant puddle, I smelled something familiar. A smokey, mossy, fishy, musty, wet smell; the smell of the cottage.

When we (my brother, cousins and I) were little, we spent many a weekend up in my grandparents cottage on Glen Lake, a small beautiful  lake near Traverse City in northern Michigan. On days we weren’t swimming in the lake or trekking up Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes, we walked through the woods, slathered in bug spray looking for raspberries, money plants and other treats the forest kept hidden. Days spent at the cottage were magical. We spent time with family and I remember ordinary mornings sitting on the deck, overlooking the late, eating Cap’n Crunch next to Gramma, while she drank her coffee in her quilted robe.

~glen lake~

On rainy days – we’d have to entertain ourselves and mostly found ourselves outside dodging raindrops or rooting around the old shed. The rainy smell of Up North is unique – not sure what makes it that way, perhaps the fresh air, the glacial soils, my unspoiled memories.  Whatever it is – it’s different from downstate.  That smell wafted through my run today and on any other day, I wouldn’t have noticed it. Wouldn’t have cared. Wouldn’t have paused to inhale it’s sweet, rainy, musty scent.

But at that moment – I knew that it was meant for me. It was the hug I’d been longing for all day. It was the hope in faith realized. The tears started escaping from my eyes and I let them roll down, warm on my hot, pink cheeks.

And then – as if on cue – the sky opened and it started pouring – I tasted the salty tears mixed with the cold, fresh rain.  I pressed on – running a bit slower to soak up this sort of divine intervention – this small gift.

I cherish that moment. It was a small moment out of a large, long day. I am reminded that even though she’s gone – she remains. A part of me, a part of my mom, a part of my brother, a part of my cousins. We are all shaped and molded from her and proudly so.

So today – on the anniversary of her passing from this life, I cry, laugh, reminisce and feel grateful for the time I had with her.  I look forward to the small moments that remind me she is not completely gone and the moments that make life a little less ordinary.

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