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.
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.
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.
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.”