June 6, 2014

I’ve Turned into My Mother

Schricker,-Mary-Dec2010By Mary Schricker Gemberling

My mom and dad retired in their sixties and split their time between their home in St. Louis and a condo in Florida. Retirement was an easy transition for both of them; they traveled some, stayed busy with old and new friends, and enjoyed visits from their children and grandchildren. On a visit to Florida, while sitting on their Lanai, I discovered that one of my parents’ newfound leisure activities was feeding and watching the birds. I remember being amazed that these two relatively active people could find such pleasure in such a sedentary hobby. I was in the throngs of my busy life as a teacher and parent with little time for any hobby, and it was inconceivable for me to find anything interesting about watching our fine feathered friends twit about from limb to limb. Many years later when my mom died, I was again reminded of her love for birds, when among her collectibles we found several finely crafted resin birds.

Fast forward twenty-five plus years!

On a recent spring afternoon, Gary and I were sitting on our screened porch enjoying the warm temperatures. The grass was greening up and many of the bushes were beginning to sprout. We were commenting on the abundance of birds of varying sizes and colors, when an Oriole landed on the feeder less than ten feet away. Soon there were two of the vibrant orange birds taking turns circling and feasting on the fresh citrus. They were joined at nearby feeders by yellow finches, red headed wood peckers, a few robins, several sparrows and an occasional cardinal. I watched the birds for quite some time when it occurred to me, that now, retired and in my sixties, I was “the relatively active person who was finding great pleasure in the sedentary hobby of feeding and watching the birds.” I had turned into my mother!!! My reaction to this assessment was a mixture of wonder and regret. When did I become this age…..the same age my mother was when I perceived her to be unexciting and archaic? How can I POSSIBLY be this excited about watching these “fine feathered friends twit about from limb to limb”? But, I was; I had reached that same level of serenity as my mom had during her retirement days. And oh how I wished I could call her and relate the arrival of the Orioles and of course, apologize for my shortsightedness those many years ago.

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eye for an instant?”
– Henry David Thoreau

Did You Know?

• There are more than 72 million wildlife watchers in the United States?

• The economic impact of “birding” is over 54.9 billion dollars?

• The first recorded use of the term “birdwatcher” was in 1891?

• Birdwatching is the fastest growing outdoor activity in the U.S.?

• As many as 2-5 billion birds fly south every winter?

• There are 8,850 different species of birds?

• Birds walk on their toes with their heels in the air?

• Hummingbirds can fly backwards?

• Birds have hollow bones which help them fly?

• The state bird of Illinois is the Cardinal?

• The state bird of Iowa is the Goldfinch?

Mary, a retired educator and former Seniors Real Estate Specialist, is the author of two books, The West End Kid and Labor of Love; My Personal Journey Through the World of Caregiving
(available at www.amazon.com ).

Filed Under: Family