Sunday, January 04, 2015

Red Tails, Green Pants

(Teaser: The book I'm reading and will be writing about later today reminded me of this story.)

The day of my uncle's funeral at the end of November, we drove in the morning from Massachusetts to Connecticut and then later that night after dinner, we separated into two groups: Mom, Dad and my sister Linda headed back to Massachusetts and my sister Maryann and I headed to Rhode Island to visit friends.

At nearly midnight, I got a text from Linda. She'd discovered that while she was gone, a red-tailed hawk had busted through her front window and was sitting in her living room, possibly injured. Calling 911 had been no help. What should she do?

She ended up spending the night with the hawk. (Well, the hawk spent the night in the living room and she spent the night locked in her bedroom.) All was as well as it could be in the morning, and an animal rescue team came for it some time that day.

The actual hawk my sister discovered in her living room
Over brunch, Maryann and I discussed the situation with our friends. "Maybe," someone said, "It was the spirit of your uncle?"

"I don't think Uncle Chuck would come back as a hawk," I said, thinking that he would have come as something that manifests irrepressible joy, something that seeks places where the sun shines, something that would not have been afraid to wear bright green pants.

"He'd have come back as a toucan."

And then the game began. What would Uncle John come back as? He's the one who would have been a raptor. A hawk, an eagle, an owl. Sharp eyes. A man of definitive action.

"What kind of bird would Mom come back as?" I asked Maryann, forgetting for a moment that Mom doesn't like birds the way I don't like snakes. Willies. Lots of willies.

Maryann didn't miss a beat. "Mom? She'd never come back as a bird."

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