The day after my mother died, she sent me turkeys. No, not like frozen turkeys in the mail, I mean actual wild turkeys.
My mom spent most of her final two years sitting in her blue recliner, watching medical shows on TiVo, and looking out her french door windows into her countryside backyard. Most times when I would phone my mom and ask her what she was up to, she’d say, “oh not much, just watching Medical Mysteries and looking at all the turkeys.”
“Turkeys, huh? How many are there today?”
“I’m not sure, a lot though. Twenty? Twenty-five, maybe? I wish they’d quiet down, I can barely hear the television.”
I think I got to a point where I just smiled and indulged her. See, in all my years both living with and visiting her, I never saw her turkeys. Zilch. Nada. Not a one. Neither did my dad–the turkeys either visited while he was at work, or they flew away before he came into the room. She also saw a bear in her backyard a few times too. Hey, some people see ghosts, some see cats, heck, I see cows out my front window, so if she wants to see bears and turkeys, fine by me. They made her happy, and anything that made her happy, made me happy.
My mom died on a Monday evening.
On Tuesday morning, I was sitting on the floor in her bedroom, with a thousand thoughts floating through my head, paralyzed by too many choices and too many memories and, at that moment, too many pairs of shoes surrounding me. We bought those at Nordstrom Rack, and those–those we found at DSW after looking everywhere for lime green sandals, and those–those she wore to my wedding, and …
Then the sound of seagulls. What the what? Seagulls? What were seagulls doing out here in the country?
Then it hit me.
They weren’t seagulls.
They were turkeys.
“IT’S THE TURKEYS! IT’S THE TURKEYS!” I shouted to my dad, upstairs, as I jumped up off the floor and ran as fast as I could to the back window. There were dozens of turkeys. And they were the most beautiful creatures I had ever seen. And yes, they were loud, so loud I could hear them through closed doors. And as I stood there watching, they each, one by one, spread their wings and took to the sky, into the trees, and then above the trees, soaring, just like seagulls, on to their next grand adventure.
That was March 2011.
My mother’s birthday is December 20. And on December 20, 2012, in the early afternoon, I was home alone. I was depressed and lonely–I’d been isolating, as I tend to do sometimes–and I was in bed, wishing I could sleep through the day. Thoughts of my mother were keeping me awake though.
And then … the sound of seagulls.
Except, of course, they weren’t seagulls.
They were wild turkeys. My mom sent me wild turkeys for her birthday. I hadn’t seen any since that day after she died. And I haven’t seen any since. Luckily, I had time to get my camera and take a few snapshots.
Birthday turkeys, and my excited Facebook status and picture.
I don’t really think you’re bonkers if you don’t believe. But you’re sure missing out if you don’t.
So, did I get turkeys again for mom’s birthday this year?
Nope, no turkeys. But I got something just as cool.
That Friday morning, December 20, as my husband and I were driving to see the “grand kids” for Christmas, I signed in to Facebook and decided to change my profile and cover photos. Since it was Mom’s birthday, I put up one of my favorite photos of us as my cover photo; It may look familiar to you:
Our drive continued rather uneventfully. Though I did keep looking around for any signs of turkeys. Even a Wild Turkey Bourbon billboard. But usually when you’re actually looking for signs, you don’t find any. Something about a watchpot never boils?
We arrived safely and got checked into the hotel, and I decided to do a quick email check on my phone before we headed out for dinner.
I was excited to see the WordPress community weekend-reads newsletter, but when I opened the message, I thought I was seeing double. Like, maybe I had accidentally opened Facebook instead. It took me a moment to figure out what I was actually seeing—here, see for yourself:
I sat there, in the hotel’s striped stiff-back desk chair, and it felt like the world had stopped turning. Like someone had hit the pause button. Like I was standing at a window watching wild turkeys. Like the universe had given me what I most wanted–a hug from my mother.
It’s my turkeys. Thank you Mom, I thought, as goosebumps spread up my arms.
And of course I was crying. But they were tears of joy.
In case someone was playing a joke on me, I decided to check on Twitter and saw the same:
Once I stopped crying, the full weight of what I was reading began to register.
They picked me.
They picked me.
They. Picked. Me.
Out of all the Freshly Pressed posts–posts that were beyond brilliant–they picked me to be included as an Editors’ Pick of the Year. Holy wow. I’m still in shock, and I am humbled, and I am proud, and I feel so blessed and lucky that, not only was I chosen for such an honor, but that it happened on my mother’s birthday.
You can call it what you want, folks. Coincidence, happenstance, luck of the draw … But me, I call it a miracle. I call it a sign. I call it a blessing. I believe, I really do. And isn’t this the season for believing?
Writing “My Grace is Gone (a Climb out of Alcoholism)” was one of the most cathartic experiences of my life. I was overwhelmed by the response it received, and I was humbled that others found hope and healing in its message. I never would have dreamed that sharing my greatest shame, would ultimately bring me my greatest healing. I can actually look back now in peace. While I still feel the pain, I am no longer burdened by the shame that once haunted me. I believe that in writing and sharing my story with others, I am closer now to my mother–even in death–than I ever was. As I wrote at the end of “Grace”:
Death cannot break the bond between a mother and her daughter.
Maybe it wasn’t “turkeys” at all that my mother sent me.
Maybe it was grace.
I believe it was.
Oh, I believe.
“I Believe” by Diamond Rio (lyrics) from Completely
And with all my heart, I’m sure
We’re closer than we ever were
I don’t have to hear or see
I’ve got all the proof I need
There are more than angels watching
Over me… I believe… oh, I believe.
WordPress, friends, readers and supporters, you have all made my 2013 very special. It has been a year of connection, a year of growth, and a year of healing. Thank you. I am forever grateful.
And because it just seems like the right thing to say, “Hey you, check out my ass!” And while you’re at it, check out some of these recent photos of me and the zoo. Happy Holidays and a Joyous New Year to you and yours.
From our zoo to yours
Awww, Baby Donkey can be quite sweet
Stuffed donkey and stuffed cow — perfect presents for the grand kids
and, hey you, yes you, this one’s pho you: