Hummingbirds

from Oh Dad! blog (May, 2014)

My eight-year-old daughter, Anika, and I got a hummingbird feeder on Saturday and hung it up on our patio. We’ve been talking about getting one for a long time. Hummingbirds remind Anika of her Grandma, my mother, who passed away a couple years ago, just before Anika turned six. Anika’s memories of Grandma are fading. But Grandma’s hummingbirds she remembers clearly. Grandma always had hummingbird feeders on her back porch, where Anika spent many summer days rocking in rocking chairs, talking to her Grandma and watching hummingbirds swarm in for sips of the sweet nectar Grandma made for them. 
 
Hummingbirds are amazing creatures… they can flap their wings up to 200 times per second … they’re the only birds that can fly backwards… they weigh about the same as a penny.
 
The man at the bird store told us that we shouldn’t have any trouble attracting hummingbirds. We have a half-dozen or so flowering azalea bushes next to the patio and a patch of woods just past the back yard. But, still, I was nervous. What if no hummingbirds came? I know my daughter well enough to know that she would take it in stride. It was a fun afternoon activity, after all. We tried. 
 
But I wanted hummingbirds. I know it sounds silly. I also want there to be a rainbow after every thunderstorm and the goldfish to live and to really be able to make boo boos go away with a kiss and to push the clouds away… but sometimes I don’t know what I’m doing and I’ve lived in the city for so long I can’t really claim to be a country boy anymore and what do I know about birds any way and what do I know about raising a little girl? 
 
But, it didn’t take long after we mixed the combination of sugar and warm water and hung the feeder on the ceiling of the patio for the first hummingbird to come take a sip. Anika spotted him before I did. Whew… what a relief! She and I did a little celebratory dance. In the few short days since then, there have been many more hummingbirds come visit us, each time equally as thrilling. 
 
I’m not exactly sure how things work in heaven, but a part of me would like to believe that the hummingbirds were sent down from Anika’s Grandma herself… as her way of saying hello and to check in on her grand-baby. And, just maybe, to remind her youngest boy that he’s doing an okay job.

Note: This story is included in Stephen Raburn’s collection of short stories, essays and articles, entitled “The Unraveling… and Other Stories,” which can be ordered on the Raburn Publishing website.

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