Yesterday as I sat in my neighbor’s backyard chatting about this and that, watching our children play I noticed a bird house tucked into a tree. An old birdhouse, white and blue and faded with age but well built, love went into it. At the peak of it’s roof was a cross making me think it was more a bird church than a bird house…

Who built it? My new neighbors? No they had been here only 2 years. I’d been in their welcoming backyard many times but I’d never noticed this bird church. Yet I could tell by the structure’s sense of belonging that it had been here many many years, nestled as it was with a neighboring vine wrapping around it’s base. It seemed in tune with the yard. In tune with the neighborhood.

As the children played I became more and more intent on this silly old birdhouse which seemed to survey the yard. A more paranoid me would have thought it housed a hidden camera. A more bitter me would think about those damn blue jays I’d been chasing out of my garden. I more snarky me would think Oh great, now we’re converting birds to Christianity. But at that moment I wasn’t feeling those parts. Wasn’t thinking those thoughts.

All I could think of was the man I knew must have built it. His wife. His dork son that irritated me so much as he strode around his mother’s house proud as a peacock as they were preparing it for sale.

When we moved into our home our neighbor’s house, just across the street, was pink. All pink with a red roof. The yard was unkempt, overgrown and sad.

We never saw the mysterious inhabitants.

Two or three times an ambulance came and whisked someone away. Once a week a truck would arrive from the hospital wheeling in equipment, supplies, medical whatnot. Once a week a grocery truck would come so the woman who lived there did not have to retrieve them herself. As I realized later, she had time on her hands and no way to spend it.

Her husband was ill.

I don’t how long he’d been ill, I don’t even know what his illness was. But there he lived with his wife in a house that only they had lived in. It was built in the late 40’s and they were the only people to have ever owned it.

It was their house.

Months passed. It was nearly a year from the time I realized that like my own grandmother, she was mothering her ill husband. Caring for his every need. Maybe sitting by him every hour. I imagined my own GG talking to my grandfather though he could hardly respond. I recall that it was a problem that she almost never left her house, so she could be with him.

This neighbor, I only saw her twice. Until one day near Christmas, near the time my own grandfather passed there was yet another ambulance. Then nothing. I saw her out in her yard as family, lots of family arrived. Someone came with a truck full of snow and they worked like crazy to shovel it into her yard. She laughed and the children grabbed little sleds, garbage can lids, anything they could sit on and slid down her sloped front yard.

And she laughed. But I could see the red in her eyes. I knew just from the fact that she was outside that her husband was dead.

How many years, I wondered, must they have been married. Their children were grown, their grand kids weren’t babies. Their house was over 50 years old.

I thought about all this as I stared at this birdhouse and I imagined the unseen man, years before his illness, years before he was bedridden, building a birdhouse with his son.

What an impact one person can make on so many with the simple act of building a birdhouse.

8 thoughts on “impact

  1. Daveman says:

    That is a sad but warmly beautiful exploration of life in and around your world.No wise cracks today.., it would be almost, sacrilidious, almost, sort of. Now I feel all quiet – Im getting all emo here. (i hate that word emo)

  2. Lindyloo says:

    Just wanted to say in all seriousness I looooove your writing and your stories. I’d probably just think about my undies stuck in my butt crack but you… you think profound deap things. Or at least if you’re making it up then it’s still brilliant and entertaining and thought provoking. Anyhoo I looooves you…eeer I mean your writing.

  3. mielikki says:

    Hey, no far making me cry. Just not fair. I could so see GG and grandpa during that story. And his death is still, at times, very fresh to me. . .beautifully written.

  4. Corey~living and loving says:

    I enjoyed this story. Good to know that I am not the only one who sees so much in so little. I would have been crazy with the need to photograph that birdhouse. I get all weird like that. :)Thank you for sharing.

Leave a Reply to sybil law Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.