Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 10, 2010 12:04AM

Made: The Best Memory Ever

Rate: 26 Flag

“Tell me the story again,” I say.  I used to say this to my grandmother to get her to tell me stories of what it was like to grow up during the Great Depression.  Now I say it to my daughter.

 She always rolls her eyes in what I like to think of as mock-protest, “Aw, Mom.  Do I have to?”  I feign disinterest, which reels her right in.  “Okay, okay.  So I was like six,” she starts.

“Five,” I correct.

“Okay five, but I’m telling you I was six because I remember what I was wearing and I know I didn’t have it when I was five.”

“You were five.”


“Do you want me to tell the story?”

“No, fine.  I was five.”  She rolls her eyes again and, as though there’s a chain reaction going on with our eye muscles, I roll my eyes right back as though I were her age all over again.

It was Mother’s Day and my daughter, for the record, was five.  It was just the two of us at the time living happily without a TV and going on crazy, creative little adventures like to the paint-your-own-pottery store where we could pick the next mug we would sip milk or coffee from and paint the most outlandish designs on it just for fun.  Just because we could.  We made our own rules and we stuck to them.  On this particular outing, we were going for a “tea party”, which was really nothing more than a trip to our favorite coffee shop.  I always parked the car in the furthest spot from the store, not because of the exercise but because it gave me an excuse to hold my little girl’s hand for a few extra steps.  She thought she was too big to hold my hand “just because” but accepted the fact that her little fingers needed to be tightly curled around mine as we walked out in traffic.

We were walking and chattering like monkeys to each other when something caught our eye.  It was lying on the sidewalk fluttering in the spring breeze.  When it fluttered, it shimmered a metallic green, making me think it was a rather large beetle.  As we got closer, my daughter recognized what it really was and pulled at my arm to make me go faster.  It wasn’t until I was right upon it that I realized my beetle was really a hummingbird, a sweet little presumably dead hummingbird.  Obviously the bird had crashed into one of the plate glass windows on the building.  My daughter started sniffing.  I looked down at her and tears were falling off her cheeks and hitting the pavement in huge blotches.  I knelt down to comfort her.

“Aw, Sweetie,” I cooed to her.  “I know, I know.  It’s really sad, but the bird isn’t hurting anymore.  It’s in a better place.”  I looked at her to see if she was buying it.  She was staring at the little bird with such sorrow in her little eyes.  I wanted to pick up the little bird and show her how peaceful it was despite the fact that it ran into a window.  The voice of my mother flooded my head: “Never, ever touch a dead animal.  They’re full of disease and fleas.”  So, I did what any good mother wanting to teach a lesson would do.  I reached down and gently picked the bird up.

I think I picked the bird up more out of curiosity than anything else.  I had never seen a hummingbird up close before and I knew that my daughter hadn’t either.  Sure I had seen them flitting around the backyard from time to time, but they were always in such a hurry that they never bothered to slow down to let me admire them at my own speed.  The bird was so much lighter than I ever imagined.  I knew they were tiny, but I could barely feel the weight of it in my hand.

I brought the bird to eye level so we could have a better look.  As soon as my hand stopped moving, the bird flipped itself over in my hand.  The bird wasn’t dead after all (so I could skip the lecture to my daughter about never ever touching a dead animal at this point).  My daughter gasped, the tears freezing on her cheeks.  A gleeful giggle bubbled from her throat as she watched the tiny bird blink in my hands.

“Can I touch it?” she asked.

“Cup your hands so you can hold it.”

She cupped her hands as if she was about to receive the most precious treasure of her life.  Gently I set the hummingbird in her waiting hands.  She raised her hands to her face as though to give the bird a kiss.  And when her hands stopped moving, the hummingbird stretched its wings and took off in its busy buzzing flight.  My daughter gasped.  Something magical had just happened right there in her hands and she knew it.  We looked at each other with our mouths open, both of us were speechless.  Even though we were now on the sidewalk, my daughter grabbed my hand and we walked toward the coffee shop.

“Hey, Momma,” she said tipping her head up to look at me.

“Yeah, Baby?”

“Why do hummingbirds hum all the time?”

“Hmmm…I don’t know, why?”

“Because they can’t remember the words!”

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a magical beautiful story--a beautiful daughter who will always have this treasure, a beautiful terrific mother, one we all should have had. I loved this, the story and the art in telling it.
I love this story! What an event to experience especially with a little one there. This is such a great memory and now it is a part of your family's history. How great!
Love this, such a wonderful memory.
Ahhhh!! Cute story!! Rated!
Thanks to bbd, I am continuing to get a steady stream of hummingbird stories today. This is extraordinary! Today my friend told me a similar story---he was at a party and a hummingbird flew into the house. Someone caught it and threw it out of the house, but it landed in the swimming pool. My friend scooped it out of the water, cradled it and said that he gave it some good, calm, reassuring thoughts then laid it on the grass. It recovered, then it flew up and landed on his head. My friend said that he knew the bird was thanking him. I said thank you to my friend for telling me that story and that I would write it in my journal tonight. Well, look here. OS is a journal too! Thank you Jess D. Facts. And bbd. May you both feel tiny wings above your heads!
Lovely, I need childlike laughter this A.M. - I mean, right off of a week of of mosque-building-koran-burning into a week of 24/7b 911 coverage. And I turn 60 next week. Thank you.
That was nice.
I live in the northwoods part of the country and live around a lot of aminals(not animals).
Way back when, I came across an abandoned gray squirrel.
Being a hardass fisherman and hunter, I picked him up and took him in the house to feed him.
I used an eyedropper for liquids and fed him some oatmeal, etc.
Eventually, he could eat real squirrel food and I tried to kick him out of the house.
The house was a bar/restaurant which was open to the public.
We also had a dog who, with some of his lesser qualities seemed somwhat human.
They became friends.
Well, "Chipper", as we named him, grew to see me as dad and got to be very protective and attached.
He'd sit on my shoulder and eat out of my hand, etc.
I remeber one time while he was perched on said shoulder that someone walked up to us and, stupidly reached out to him.
Of course Chipper took this as a threat as bit the guy's finger.
Since this was pre-lawyer infested suit crazy days, we all had a laugh over it.
I eventually had to wean him from living inside and it took me several attempts to get him to stay out.
We had a long bird feeder into which we'd put seeds and other things.
Well, after actually yelling at him to get out and stay outside, he finally got the hang of the feeder.
He lived around us for several months and would make regular visits.
After one winter, he apparently got the hang of where he belonged or found a girlfriend to keep him warm and, we couldn't tell him apart anymore.
Well, we still have pics of him and us and, since this was 25 years ago, I hope he had a happy life.
This is one of those experiences that make you feel fortunate for where you live and who you are.
I've been amazed at what birds can get through. I have cats who enjoy sneaking in the house with their prey (snakes, birds, mice, gophers, etc). I've captured many a bird that I'm convinced only has moments to live before they hop to their feet and take off from my hand. It always feels like a miracle.
I can thank hummingbirds for my love of gardening. We had several who visited our back yard in Burbank, California, and I was so enchanted with them I made trip after trip to a local nursery to find flowering plants to keep attracting them. My first purchase was a half dozen large baskets of fuchsias that I hung over the patio, and then I got seriously into it.

Magical little beings they are. I love their tiny little chirps.
several others used the word "magical" already, but I dont have a better one.
Yes, what a magical piece and I'm sure a magical memory.
Hello Jess. I followed consonants&vowels and mhold here -- seems we've all been talking about hummingbirds the last couple of days. And this is a wonderful, wonderful story. Thank you for it.
Such a magical story about parenting and shared joy. I have a sad story about a hummingbird. The morning after we buried my son I woke and and, bleary-eyed, I thought I saw a hummingbird hovering in the doorway. When the image faded I rushed to the computer and searched the symbolism of hummingbirds.
One source suggested that a hummingbird is a symbol of resurrection because it can appear to die on cold nights, but "comes back to life" again at sunrise. That was what I needed to believe at that moment so I stopped reading and that was the message I took away from the experience.
It doesn't matter if the "message" came from anyone or anywhere. It was a moment of beauty and hope at the beginning of the most awful day of my life.
I am glad your story was a "resurrection" story, too. One day, hopefully, you can tell your grandchildren too.
Great story. I got the same scolding when I was a kid. We get lots of humming birds and some crash into our front window while jousting. Now I always right them and wait for the miracle. The ones that don't make it get laid to rest amongst the moss by the pond.Thanks for telling your wonderful tale.
One hell of a precious story Jess, a perfect moment between a child and her mom.
Love the ending! hehee! I also love hummingbirds. Fascinating little creatures. So many interesting facts about them. PBS did a great documentary on them if you can find it.
If you have some time, do the Google on them. You won't be disappointed, especially if you search for the bumblebee hummingbird. Smallest bird on the planet that weighs no more than a penny.

PS. It's okay to pick up dead animals if they're fresh. You just have to skin them quick and get them in a pot. You're from Louisiana, you should have known that. Awww...I'm just shuckin' ya. You don't really have to hurry them to a pot. You can fry 'em instead!
wonderful. thanks for sharing!
Memories are truly part of making the world go round.
Encouraging your daughter to tell that story again and again will insure that she gets to keep it. What a wonderful treasure to hold!
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