Sunday, May 11, 2008

Mom's Day

Today is the day designated by the Hallmark people as Mother's Day. I guess it's nice to have a special day devoted to Mothers on the calendar, but I really think if your Mom isn't in your heart every day, then just flipping a page on the calendar isn't going to put her there.

My mom has been gone for 10+yrs, but definitely not forgotten. Technically dying of ovarian cancer, she had suffered from Alzheimer's for the last decade of her life. Saying goodbye to someone who has Alzheimer's has usually been done years before the funeral, as you watch the grim progression of the disease robbing them of their memories and ability to make sense of the world, bit by bloody bit.

For some reason, I always think of easter egg painting on Mother's Day. My mom was very creative that way, always finding things to do with her children that would provide great memories and learning experiences. Some of our easter eggs took on a Faberge quality while others were simply decorated with rude comments in white wax crayons. These were especially fun to write some cutting insult about a particular sibling with, and then hand the invisibly-inscribed egg to the sibling in question to dip into the dye, hardly able to contain yourself while they watched for the slowly forming jibe to appear. It was like a ticking time-bomb egg message!

For the last two Mother's Days, living in Utah, I have had the pleasure of watching a hummingbird family building a nest, hatching eggs, feeding the nestlings, and finally watching them fly away to parts unknown. I don't know why they have chosen this particular small pine tree on the east side of our home, but they have built their nest on the same branch two years in a row now. It is on a steep rocky slope which has prevented good photos without risking my neck (literally). Last year's nest was so sturdy that it survived our winter winds, rain & snow and was still there, albeit very ragged looking, last month when I finally knocked it down. Maybe that inspired them to quickly build another in the same spot.

The following photo is from last year. The two babies look full grown and were about a week from finally flying away. The nest is no more than the size of a silver dollar, but very comfy looking, lined with soft downy feathers & pieces of lint. At this point, the babies were so large, the mother could not stay in the nest with them, but was constantly flitting around feeding them. At night, she & her mate would hover around the nest, practically on top of the babies, to provide some warmth. I'm guessing they slept on the same branch.


The next photo is the new nest this year on Mother's Day. There are two eggs, same as last year, but they seem to be a little behind, because by this time last year, the eggs had hatched. I don't know if they could possibly be the same breeding pair, perhaps this nest was constructed by one of last year's nestlings who remembered this spot as a nice place. I will be keeping an eye on them.

The photo is so blurry because I had to hang onto a nearby tree with one arm to keep from slipping & falling down the hillside. With the other arm, I had to reach up to my limit & point down at the nest. Naturally, all this activity scared the mother hummer away. The mother is about the size of a large moth. The eggs are jellybean size.

I think my mom would've loved these hummingbirds, although with her slightly skewed sense of humor, she might've been hoping the mother hummer would abandon the nest so she could give these lovely little eggs to her grandkids to decorate. I miss you, Mom! You always made me laugh!

Happy Mother's Day to everyone, human and otherwise!

22 comments:

Fran said...

Sweet tribute to your Mom. Thanks for risking your neck to give us a peek @ the hummingbird nests.

D.K. Raed said...

Fran: I really do think my mom would've loved these hummers. We've always had lots of hummingbirds, wherever we live, but I have NEVER seen a nest before, and now I've had them 2-yrs in a row. Can't wait 'til the little eggs hatch. They are the size of your pinkie fingernail. I can stand on a ledge next to our house & watch them without risking my neck, but there is no good angle for a photo from there.

Utah Savage said...

It's still a little cold up nort here to see hummers yet. I put up feeders and have plenty of flowers, but so far no sight of them.

My mom died of vascular dementia. Her body stayed in god working order long after her mind was gone. finally the mind stop sending themessage to her mough to chew and swallow. She went into hospice care on her birthday Dec.23, and she died Christmas morning about 3 AM. I said thank you Santa. And even though I believe in Santa as much as I believe in Jesus I said thank you Jesus, too. Finally release from servitude and fear. Happy belated Mother's Day to you.

D.K. Raed said...

UT Savage: It's very affecting to witness anyone's mental destruction. For us with my mom, we all wondered how it would end since she was walking the mental tightrope that Alzheimer's sends the brain on, searching for the last few remaining firing synapses. She had always been such a specimen of physical health, we were thinking she might go on for decades. Getting ovarian cancer did her in, but in a way, spared her and us having to go through the very end stages of Alzheimer's.

I know you had a totally different relationship w/your mother, and I respect that what might seem like a sad death to others was actually a release for you. Christmas must be a double-edged pleasure. Peace to you.

ps, I haven't put up any hummer feeders and they are still thick as moths in the evenings, flitting from flowering shrubs to flowering trees. I guess it's just that time of year. I'm also seeing a lot of calif quail (no little babies running along w/them yet), and we are still seeing migrating ducks & geese overhead, probably heading up your way.

an average patriot said...

That's pretty cool! You are pretty cool to be able to get pictures. We used to have them nesting on the side of the dairy barn. They are pretty cool to watch.
I was lucky enough last year to see one face to face. I was sitting on the deck observing like I always do and one zipped in front of my face about a foot away for about 10 seconds then zip it was gone. They are really cool to watch.
A friend of mine has something very unique in her garden especially in Massachusetts. ever hear of or see A Hummingbird Moth
Red you live in a pretty good area to have a lot of quail and Hummingbirds around. I envy you! my hat is off to you and Utah with the memories of your Mothers. Best wishes to both of you!

DivaJood said...

Alzehimers, ovarian cancer, and hummingbirds. What a lovely tribute to your mother, though, DK. My aunt Sally, who died at 98 years, was in sound body until almost the end. But she had complete dementia for the last 12 years. My own mother died young, at 70 - mother's day is tough.

D.K. Raed said...

Avg Patriot:
I did not know about humingbird moths. But I can see by the picture you linked, they are insects, not birds like my hummers. This evening, I fed the pine tree some iron & watered it in -- the mother hummer bravely stayed on the eggs the whole time. I was all business & tried not to stare at her, figuring she might take that as a threat.

Diva:
My mom was gone at 68, same age as her mother & her older sister (my aunt). Many days, I wonder if I should be on countdown watch myself, only 13-yrs to go? I still have detailed dreams about my mom & in them, she is always mentally acute. Your aunt must've been an incredible specimen to make it to 98, even if her last yrs were a fuzzy mess.

an average patriot said...

Yes they are Moths mistaken to be Hummingbirds as they are the same size and have the same color schemes. Never heard of them myself until my friend asnd her Hubby thought they had HB's and took pictures finding out they were HB Moths. Hmm who knew?

Mauigirl said...

D.K., lovely and poignant post about your mother...love the hummingbird pictures. I am envious of you having such wonderful birds to watch - here in New Jersey in my yard all we get are the more mundane birds!

an average patriot said...

Maui
I envy her menagerie too. Being from Mass. by mundane i assume you mean pigeons and sparrows! That is okay too!

D.K. Raed said...

Avg Patriot
and MauiGirl:
I actually bemoan the LACK of bird diversity here in this UT desert. Our last home in San Diego was a veritable bird paradise. Today the lizards are chasing each other around our backyard. A few are doing pushups on the fence. They have to watch for Roadrunners, who catch them, bop them against a rock & eat them. Beep-Beep, Nature, red in tooth & claw!

an average patriot said...

That's funny, I didn't know you live in the desert. I used to work the missile sites in Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming, and drove to Salt Lake.
There are some pretty screwed up areas in this country. I used to wonder how people could live where they do. Much of my family lives in Florida fight where the fires are now but I have family in Arizona and my brother is in Kingman (Mohave Desert) and loves it but he's crazy. anyway you make me laugh talking about the lizards and roadrunners!

D.K. Raed said...

Avg Patriot:
I think it is all related to where you grew up. I was born & raised in a desert, so it all seems fine to me. In fact, when we visit very lush green places, I kind of lose my bearings. I am so used to seing nature laid bare! (now Kingman AZ, oh my, I'm afraid to say your bro' might indeed be crazy ... I'm sure it must have redeamable qualities, but it is about the ugliest place I've ever seen ... and it attracts people like Timothy McVeigh) ...

an average patriot said...

Red
I know, Myself I like the 4 seasons and the green. with growing water and food shortages I think I am safest right here. i do think my brother is nuts but it looks nice around there for at least a day in spring. He is a drinker and a golfer as is his wife. His kids live in Vegas and I have a brother that just moved down to Tuscon.
Otherwise the rest of my family live in Florida and besides the fires and the hurricanes its too damn hot in the sumer. We'll see what happens from here I guess!

enigma4ever said...

6:30PM
EDWARDS ENDORSING OBAMA IN MICHIGAN AT A RALLY....6:30PM....WOOOOOHOOOOO....


finally ;-)

Nelson Newz said...

I miss Grandma too! Can't wait to tell my little ones stories about her =)

D.K. Raed said...

Neice Nelson: oops, I forgot to mention the great-granddaughters! You know Mom would've loved to see them. I bet you've started a scrapbook of stories. Let me know if you want my christmas doll story to add.

Utah Savage said...

I'm taking a little time off. The weather was perfect up here today. I set some bricks in my garden path. Doing this I noticed how dry the dirt was. Turned on outside water, got the swamp cooler uncovered and hooked up to water. Pulled some summer furniture out onto the deck. Then house cleaning. Such a mundane everyday perfect day. I have been attracting ardent Hillary supporters who have taken to screaming at me on my own site. So I'm taking some time out. Cleaning up my site. Adding poetry, short stories, a novel as well as the usual rants and observations. I swear, I'm going to learn to link this weekend.

Tina said...

Beautiful tribute to your mom.

While growing up, my mom would take clippings from a haircut and the hair trapped in a brush and toss them into the wind in the hopes that a cold birdy would use it for their nest.
.... I do the same at my house, now.

D.K. Raed said...

Tina:
That is a good way to recycle hair! My mother-in-law used to put out lint from the dryer for bird's nests. Years later, I read somewhere that it is caustic stuff, but she was already gone, so I guess the birds are now safe again.

Utah S:
Oh no, not the hill crowd! Well, that's as good a reason as any to do some blog cleaning. We think we'll hit 97-degrees here by Sunday, which means the Air Conditioner will be turned on for the first time this year. It also means the Air Conditioner will probably not be turned off again until October!

If you need some talking through links & embeds, just ask. The key is those toolbar icons which should appear above the text of any new post you're working on. Play around with them, copy & pasting, it's the only way to learn. To add an image or photo is only slightly more complicated. You can do it!

enigma4ever said...

I forgot to come back...I left you that messege the other day , I ran around to all the Edwards people trying to let them know ahead of time...then finally the Media did announce it- in the afternoon it looked like it was up to the Blogs to spread it...I dashed about spreading the news...and then I forgot to come back....

I sent you a Happy Mothers Offline- I hope you got it.....anyways..

I loved seeing the baby birds...I knew you would get that picture....they are soooo amazing...and wonderful...we have no baby birds yet...of course I have a Falcon and an Owl near my house I have a hunch that might effect some of the patterns here...

You know sadly you will have to show more of them..as they grow..( they do get bigger right? ).....

Anyways I hope your mothers day was wonderful...

Come by Watergate..have not seen you much this week...

( that was so nice you offered advice to Utah- see you are becoming a pro ;-)

D.K. Raed said...

Enigma:
I was glad you gave me a heads-up because otherwise I might've missed the whole thing. You know our 24/7 news, one complete showing if you're lucky, and after that it's all snippets.

You remind me I need to get out & risk my neck for another hummer pic. I saw yesterday, one of the eggs has hatched! There was a lumpy featherless blob in its place. If the other one hasn't hatched by today, that is not a good sign (though nothing is wasted inside the nest). We busted the thermometer at 101 today, so I hope they're OK.

Hey, if I'm now offering link advice, maybe I should take some of it myself & finally do a blog roll. I'm just so lazy lately!