October fourteenth would have been my mother’s one hundred and tenth birthday. It is hard to believe that she has been gone for thirty years. That is a long time to not have my mother here.
My mother was an amazing woman. She traveled as a single woman when it was not a common thing for an unattached woman to do. My father and she married in their late thirties. I was born, the youngest of three when she was forty-two. She managed a household of three daughters, three grandparents, my dad and numerous cats and fish. She was a “Stay at Home Mom” before the term was popular. She worked hard. She always had time for all of us. Her faith was important to her as was the several gardens she maintained. She was a kind, compassionate and fun mother.
My mom died shortly after Labor Day in her eightieth year. When I was visiting the summer before her death, she mentioned to me that the “Spirit Babies” were in the backyard. When I questioned her further, I learned there was a family of crows that she had been watching grow through the spring and into the summer. She had named them the Spirit Babies.
A few years prior my sister had given me a small painting of two crows sitting in a grove of aspen. It was called “The Spirits”. According to some Native American traditions and tales, the crow is believed to be the messenger between the seen and unseen worlds. Crow medicine is strong medicine.
Shortly after Labor Day, my mother died after a long illness. I wrote a letter to her and included one of the crow feathers from the backyard with the letter. I tucked it in her casket.
My mother was buried in northern New Jersey. As we were preparing for the drive north from Delaware, I noticed my father had laid a crow feather on top of his overcoat, lying in the back seat of the car. I asked him what he was going to do with the feather. He said he wasn’t sure, so I suggested that he put it on her casket at the graveside. And so it was.
After the graveside service, we went to lunch with friends and family. Before my sisters and my dad and I headed to “The Lake”, my dad wanted to return to the cemetery. I drove with him. When we arrived we got out of the car. There were a dozen or more crows in the trees over my mother’s grave. As we stood there the crows lifted up in the air and flew. I was in awe. My father was too. I believe this was my mother’s farewell. I like to believe that she is now one of those messengers.
Since that time I have met up with my mom on occasion. When I am struggling and I wish she was here so I could talk with her, a crow often shows up. It may sit on a light post or a fence and well, crow. It is comforting to me to feel my mother’s presence. It is comforting to know she is still supporting me.
Do I believe that those who have died can appear in other forms? Does this side of spirituality exist? Over the years I realize that the answer to these questions is not really important. What is important is for me to accept comfort and support and guidance that is offered, no matter what form that may take. If having my mother there in another form is comforting and helps ease my journey through this life, then that is enough.
Today I am thankful for the years I had with my mother. I am grateful for her ongoing presence in my world. Today I am thankful for crows.