Thursday, December 24, 2009


I can't find my hummingbird earrings that I wear on special occasions, and today is Christmas Eve. Not that I'm all that religious, but in my very large Catholic family, we celebrate Christmas in a big way, religious or not. So, I'm bummed.

You see, these particular earrings hold a special significance for me, in the way that certain objects do that are given to you by someone you love. I will never forget the circumstances surrounding the day I got these earrings. They are bright turquoise blue and bright lime green, and the hummingbird is poised as if ready to take a sip of nectar from a bright tropical flower.

One hot summer day, I took my ten year freckle faced old son, Sean, to Marine World in California, a magical place for kids of all ages, a place that displays animals of all kinds in a setting a bit kinder than a zoo. Some of the more graceful animals, like dolphins and killer whales, perform for the audience during shows where the audience is routinely drenched by splashing animal performers. But the staff also teaches the audience about animal behavior and animal endangerment in our world of shrinking wild places. I remember especially one trainer who had a hawk sitting on his arm, talons curved around the man's leather-gloved forearm. The hawk was tethered by a leather strap so he couldn't fly off, and sat majestically still on his human perch as the man talked about hawks for 20 minutes. I, for one, was fascinated. But I think my son was more intrigued by the larger, potentially lethal animals with sharp claws and fangs.

Towards the end of the day, we visited the bird sanctuary, where you have to enter through thick, hanging floor to ceiling plastic strips so the birds don't fly out. The sanctuary is filled with bright green tropical plants and air that is heavy with humidity and neon colored birds of every hue that fly around from plant to plant above your head. After we left the bird sanctuary, my ten year old son and I visited the special gift shop that carried bird related souvenirs and was next to the bird sanctuary. A visit to the gift shop was a required element of any field trip, something we always did at the end of our outings and certainly my son's favorite part of any trip. This time, my son wanted to buy something with his own money, quite unusual behaviour for a child who would usually sweet talk his mother into buying yet another stuffed animal or plastic dinosaur. But this time, he made me wait outside while he made his purchase and chose not to show it to me when he came out of the shop. I remember waiting for him, sitting on a low stone wall. When he came out of the shop, he sat down next to me on the wall, and out of the blue, said something I will never forget. He said "Mom, when you get old, I'm not going to put you in an old persons home like some people do. I'm going to take care of you forever." How sweet! At ten, he still loved being with me, loved going places with me and could not conceive of ever being without me. He did not yet understand the natural and necesary separation between parent and child that comes with the teenage years.

A week or two later, on my birthday, Sean surprised me with the most wonderful birthday gift, these beautiful, brightly colored hummingbird earrings. I was quite taken aback that my son, a ten year old, had purchased something from the gift shop, not for himself, but for his mother. And now, my beautiful hummingbird earrings, which I have treasured ever since and have worn on just about every special occasion, have been temporarily misplaced.

Sean was killed nine years ago at the age of seventeen, hit by a train as he was crossing the railroad tracks on his way home from high school. Since he died, those earrings have taken on an even more special significance for me. When I wear them, I remember my wonderful son. Even though he cannot physically be here with me, when I put those earrings on, I remember his love for me, his fun loving spirit, his laughter, and that glint of good natured mischief in his sparkling blue eyes.

I have to find those special earrings. They have been packed away in a box someplace, a box that I hope was shipped to my Dad's house along with other precious items I shipped back east when I returned to Connecticut in November. Its Christmas Eve; I don't have much time to find them.


  1. beautiful post, my friend... i hope you find those earings...

  2. I will pray that you can locate them, I understand their meaning very well.


  3. Mrs. Brown, please email me at I will send you back something you'll like.

    Secretia (Secret Story Time)