Superstition: Myths or Malarkey?

Growing up my grandmother told me birds carry souls and deliver messages to the living. It’s said a bird is generally a good omen unless one enters your house or runs into your window. Either one is bad. Like death bad.  These are the stories she focused on, never discussing the good luck superstitions just went on repeatedly about bad luck omens. As a result I’m a bit bird obsessed. If a bird does anything out of the ordinary I’m convinced of impending doom. Case in point, three months before my Dad died a bird flew into his house and hid under the only couch he ever sat on. From that moment on I was on guard.

Thanks dear sweet Grandma Gertie.

Last night a bird flew into my kitchen window. Smack. Scared the shit out of me; even left a smudge. My mind went straight to crazy. My first reaction wasn’t, “Oh, I hope its okay,” which is awful I know, but if I`m honest it was, “OH MY GOD, SOMEONE IS GOING TO DIE.”

I ran to the window to make sure it wasn’t dead because a dead bird omen in my mind is way worse than a slightly injured bird with a concussion. I couldn’t find it, but there was a swarm of robins flying around like it was Armageddon. Then I saw the dove on my fence. Which sounds lovely, because doves are the bird of love, peace and loyalty and I truly believe my Dad`s soul comes to me in this way. I love doves, except when a bird just hit the window and there’s one just sitting there staring at me all like, “Heed this warning…”

I know this all sounds spectacularly superstitious and you`re all shaking your heads at me like my husband does, but he wasn’t laughing so hard when the dove that lives at our house sat beside my son on the porch for a good five minutes. A Grandson my Dad never met.

Now my mind is racing, who is it going to be? We’ve already been to the funeral home three times in a matter of four months. Another little tidbit Gertie gave me, death comes in threes. She really was a joyous woman. So I just recovered from the hell of counting them down. That’s one, that’s two…and three and done…whew.

I Googled the bird/window myth and found a site that said the result can happen anytime within the year. Every one of my relatives reading this just shuddered. It could be anyone of us. Although I think I’m the only one who takes it quite this seriously. I`ll tell you how deep this goes. Have you ever been driving and have a bird come so close to hitting your car that it scares you? When this happens, I think it’s someone I know (a dead someone I know) telling me to pay attention, danger ahead. When I slow down and pay more attention, I`ll be damned if eight times out of ten something happens and I was happy I was on my toes.

I would like to say I don’t believe in superstitions but I have to admit when they happen, I stop and acknowledge them. I never walk under a ladder, avoid opening umbrellas inside and find it really hard to walk passed a penny on the ground. I knock on wood and to add my only little twist of weird, I used to tap the dash of my car three times if I had a bad thought while driving…Superstition with a little OCD thrown in. When I was young I would always avoid stepping on a crack because I never wanted the guilt of breaking my Mother’s back. Even if in my childish mind I felt she might deserve it.

So, yeah, I’m a little cray-cray, but I can’t be all alone in this, can I?

Do you have any superstitions?

My Dad is Better Than Your Dad

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One of my first memories of my Dad is of him yelling at me after I picked up a red hot bolt while trying to “help” sweep up his garage. He owned a Shell gas and service station in our small town and he had just gotten finished working on a car. Of course I screamed scaring him half to death. I would like to tell you he ran over and cradled me in his arms, but that would be to Leave It to Beaver-ish. I remember the smell of his work clothes, a combo of grease and gasoline, which I still love to this day. He plastered thick jelly onto my burn and continually asked me what the heck I was thinking? He wasn’t exactly a patient man.

We laugh about it now.

At 35 he had a heart attack which resulted in a triple bypass. He had a scar that ran from his throat to his ankle and every time I saw it I was reminded of how easily he could be taken from us.

The surgeon told my Mom the bypass could give him a maximum of 10 years. A secret she kept to herself until he died 23 years later, four months after I was married.  I can’t imagine the stress she was under counting down the years with two young girls to care for.

My Dad taught me how to ride a lawn mower and a mini bike both of which I always somehow jammed into the neighbours chain link fence. I can still picture him coming out the back door shaking his head. Or through the snow on the coldest days because I stalled the Ski-doo half way across the field.

Yes, maybe there was a reason he was impatient…

Lucky for me I got three traits from him;  my patience, deep forehead wrinkles and a freakishly long back with a hint of a butt attached.

Thanks Dad.

He was honest, humble, hardworking and kind. Everything a straight up man should be. He had the kindest eyes I’ve ever known and the most genuine smile. He whistled when he did chores, watched The Guiding Light (he’s gone now so I can tell you), ate chicken wings against doctors orders, loved Archie Bunker, stole smokes behind the shed and spent many hours in his “workshop” where he made tables, shelves and drank beer with his BFF.

Everyone in town knew him and liked him. He made no enemies.

He also snored like a freight train, wiggled his foot back and forth the entire time he watched TV and crunched chips incredibly loud. He built a pontoon boat with my uncle that almost sunk half way across the river. He smelled like Icy Hot, chewed Rolaids, always had dirt under his nails, took forever to BBQ anything, swore like a sailor when he thought I couldn’t hear, taught me how to whittle with a pocket knife, probably wished I was a boy and said he hated the dog but secretly loved him.

He hardly ever raised his voice but when he did shit was about to get real and whatever it was my sister or I had done you could be sure would never happen again.

He was an astounding Grandfather and had all the time in the world for my sister’s kids. Suddenly patience wasn’t an issue. I wish he could’ve met mine. What an incredible loss for them.

The moment my son was born I saw my Dad in his eyes. Now, when I watch him play ball and he sits all hunched over on the bench, the way I’ve seen my Dad sit a million times, I feel him there.

It’s been 13 years since I held his hand when he lost his last battle and I’m grateful to have been there, to have been able to say my goodbyes, to have had the extra years I didn’t know was borrowed time. What an incredible gift.

When we made the procession from church to cemetery, bells tolled and policemen came out of the station to salute him in the street as his body was driven past. I’ll never forget it.

My Dad was a man of honour, a master of duck tape, a trusted friend, and an incredible soul with a stubborn streak. No, he wasn’t perfect.

But I miss him every damn day.