Precious Things

My grandson is five. Together we walk our farm, and identify the creatures and gifts of nature that make their home here. I teach him about the flowers, the plants, the bugs and the animals. I tell him not to squeeze the baby birds that we are raising in the barn. They are precious I tell him. In my home he is eager to touch everything. Sometimes he will ask me before he picks up something breakable, “Is it precious Mimi?”


By all accounts I am a bean counter, but I am also a voyeur with a looking glass into many lives. Yesterday I spoke with a client who just made the difficult decision to sell her home of many years to move closer to her two daughters and new grandchild. We explored all of the financial ramifications, but in the end the financial calculations carried no weight. She missed her children, and her new grandchild was too precious to her to be so far away.


Recently, one of our turkey hens hatched a dozen chicks. Unfortunately, we had a day of torrential cold rain, and she lost all but one of her chicks. A week later we received a shipment of day old turkeys which we kept in our barn under a heat lamp for a few weeks. When we felt they were old enough to go outside my husband suggested that we place the mother turkey and her one surviving chick in with the other chicks. We were nervous about the mother and her older chick being in with the younger chicks, but didn’t see any signs of aggression when we placed the birds together. A few nights later we left before dark to go out to dinner. We could see the young chicks strutting around under the heat lamp in their new outdoor pen as we left the farm. When we returned after dark it appeared that all of the baby chicks had disappeared. Alarmed, we stopped in the driveway to examine the pen. The mother turkey had settled herself for the night, and nestled under her wings were all of the baby birds. Her instinct to mother was strong, and the young chicks were happy to seek warmth and shelter in the cocoon she created for them. One of our ducks has been sitting on eggs in the chicken coop for the last few months to no avail, and I have a dozen or so baby guinea keets in the barn ready to head outside. Tomorrow night I will sneak the baby guineas under the duck, and I suspect that she will happily mother her new babies. After all, how could she not love the small precious things?


Like everyone I collect various things. Blue and white china has been a passion of mine since I was a young girl, and I purchased my first set of Spode Blue Italian dishes when I was barely twenty. My home is filled with the precious things I have collected over the course of my life, but I know that these things I have collected are not the most precious things I have. When my mother came home with hospice she lay dying for thirteen days. She didn’t ask for the things she had collected over the years. She asked for her children, grandchildren, mother, brothers, sisters, friends and neighbors. She asked for a view of the birds and the sky. So we set up a bed on her porch with a view of the birds and the sky, and we opened the door to all of the people in her life. And every day for thirteen days she asked for just one more precious moment to be with those people and things she loved. You see in her last dying days my beautiful mother showed us all what precious really means.


My mother has been gone for eight years now, but when I look at the birds and the sky I remember how precious these things were to her.  Memories of my mother are everywhere. I see her in the eyes of my daughter as she mothers her children and the animals that mother their young on our farm. And I walk with my grandson into another precious day.


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