Hummingbirds

By Jacob Hatcher

Community Columnist

Before she moved up onto the mountain, we would sit on that red wood deck Papa built and stare out onto the yard in which so many games of football and kick the can had been played. When the wind blew just right, I could hear the echo of my Daddy and his brothers hollering, “Olly Olly Oxen Free” with the neighborhood kids. Through the window next to me I could smell every Sunday dinner that was ever cooked in that kitchen.

Just across from the porch swing hung an old hummingbird feeder, and we would sit out there before the sun had a chance to dry up all the dew waiting to hear the buzzing of those tiny wings. I imagined that the feeder had been a migration pit stop for generations of hummingbirds; I often pretended the birds would share with one another what they saw while visiting Nana’s porch.

There’s a tradition that says when a cardinal lights near you it’s a lost loved come to visit. I haven’t found that in the Bible yet, but if I were inclined to believe such a thing, I’d like to think Nana would be a hummingbird. Graceful and beautiful. Colorful and sweet. Miraculously steady in the midst of life.

I used the last bit of money she ever gave me to buy an Epiphone Hummingbird guitar. It’s the red of the sweet sugar water with flowers and a hummingbird on the pickguard. The first song I played on it was In The Garden, because flowers and hymns remind me of her.

Like her memories towards the end of her life, the painting has begun to fade a little bit. There’s still a faint outline, but it’s harder and harder to tell what it is. I’ve considered replacing it from time to time, but somehow it seems fitting to leave it. When I first bought it, the crisp new design reminded me of the Nana of my childhood; it’s easy to only want to remember that Nana. But the truth is, the fading memory, shadow of who she used to be Nana of my early twenties is worth remembering too.

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