This Little Bird
By John D Loudermilk
There’s a little bird that somebody sends
Down to the earth to live on the wind
Born on the wind and she sleeps on the wind
This little bird that somebody sends
She’s light and fragile, and feathered sky blue
So thin and graceful, the sun shines through
This little bird that lives on the wind
This little bird that somebody sends
She flies so high up in the sky out of reach of human eye
And the only time that she touches the ground is when that little bird
Is when that little bird is when that little bird dies
Yesterday, was my normal day for posting a blog on this site. I didn’t have time for my usual, so instead, left a brief note to all readers about it being Thanksgiving, and left a few suggestions for how to make it a good day. Didn’t realize that I was really writing a note to my own person. Just wrote and then went off to spend the day with family. Actually it was a diverse group, including my Mother, sister and her husband, her two children, myself, my oldest daughter, and friends of my nephew’s at whose home the get together was taking place.
There was only one child present. She is my niece’s daughter Kimberly, a very bright, big-eyed, tow-headed, two year old, only grandchild on both sides, much favored, yet intelligent enough to accept her position as small and only princess, while ruling with a gentle and accommodating hand. When everyone was gathered around a table that had been extended to seat all 20 of the guests who were present, Kimberly broke out into the Happy Birthday song. She had just celebrated her second, and knew that was what was supposed to happen next. All of us joined in, but went silent when we got to the part of the song that names the Happy Birthday individual. All eyes turned to Kimberly, expecting her to say her own name. She looked around the table, grinned, and sang, “Tom,”, meaning the turkey, her dad explained, that she had recently learned was so strongly associated with this particular day.
Afterward, sitting quietly on the couch in a small adjacent room, I watched Kimberly playing with the Playschool house filled with Weebles and their accessories. I was leaning forward with my arms resting on my thighs, when she got up from the floor, walked directly to me and into my arms, placing her head against my shoulder and stretching her own arms up and out to embrace me. Unbidden, the song about the Little Bird came into my head, and I began to sing it. Kimberly moved back one step, looked directly into my eyes with a warm smile of recognition, stepped back into my arms, and once again rested her small face against me, as I finished the first verse of the old folk song. Then, as gently as she had come, she disengaged herself and left the room.
That song packs a lot of memories. I learned it when I was a teenager and have probably sung it hundreds of times. To myself as a soothing lullaby, as well as to my children. But it is a secret that Kimberly and I share. When she was a newborn, fussing toward sleep but not quite able to reach it, I sang it to her for the first time. With a contented sigh, and soft smile, she settled into my arms and drifted off. That happened several times. When she was about one, fighting the restraints of the car seat, she was strapped into, I sang it and she quieted down immediately.
Yesterday, before leaving for the day, I wrote: While the kids are running around, yelling or screaming, remember that, at one point, that was you. Did you need a hug back then? Then be the one to give it now. Somehow, Kimberly knew that I was the one who needed that hug and she gave it gently and graciously, making a memory that stands out from all the others.