“I remember this,” I said to Grandma, “I always liked it.”
I sat on the floor of my grandparents’ dining room, knowing it was likely the last time I’d ever be in their home. It was February 2016, and the property had been sold to a home builder who valued the land more than the house itself. My grandparents had gracefully accepted their transition to a retirement home, but were still returning to the house to clean out more than 6 decades worth of accumulated possessions. Grandma sat on a chair while I pulled items out of the hutch and packed them into boxes.
“It’s a bluebird of happiness,” she said wistfully. “Take it.”
The glass bluebird had been in my grandparents’ kitchen window for as long as I could remember, but was now hidden among other trinkets, ready for a move. I made a mental note to ask Grandma later about its significance, but I never did. After she passed, I took it down from a shelf in my home and examined it more closely.
“Leo Ward 1983,” reads the etching on the bottom, and a quick Google search reveals that many of these bluebirds were created in the 1980s. They sell on Ebay for about $10.
But monetary value holds no value at all when it comes to memories.
Even on rainy Seattle days, my grandparents’ kitchen was always bright, sunny, and smelling of fresh fruit. A few potted plants on the windowsills surrounded the table and chairs in the cozy corner, where two large windows met and overlooked the fenced-in backyard.
We sat down to a set table for every meal. Placemats and cloth napkins, even at breakfast. Milk for cereal in its own pitcher. Everything that would be needed was before us in the center. No one would eat alone or hopping up and down to retrieve items.
And what’s the significance?
I felt honored in my grandparents’ home. Not because of what I’d been doing in my life, but because there was literally a space carved out just for me, three times a day, where my presence was anticipated and cherished.
In modern life, we are so consumed with what we accomplish in a given day. I run from one activity to the next, feeling pushed to make my choices count. But meals together can slow this all down to allow us moments of sanctifying grace.
When I look at the bluebird, I am taken back to the table, where I remember being accepted, encouraged, affirmed, strengthened, and deeply loved.
The bluebird of happiness tells me that – even now – there is always time to hear the heart, and that connection to and gratitude for one another is what truly brings us joy.