When I was a little girl, my grandparents lived in New York.
I grew up in Washington state.
Every few years we would pile into the red VW bus and make the trip.
What brave parents I had, driving 4 noisy kids across the country.
But it was always worth the crazy drive.
From the time I was little, I can remember my Grandpa slipping me money.
While my siblings all got a five dollar bill, my Grandpa would sneak me a twenty.
I'm not sure what he liked about me, but it's safe to say I was his favorite.
I know my siblings were aware, but to their credit, they never got mad at me for it.
Grandpa served in World War II.
Whatever he saw and did there took its toll, and we always knew him to be a bit "crazy".
And yet, he wasn't.
He was also gentle, sweet, loving and hilarious.
He could make you laugh till you cried.
One day as we were all sitting around chatting outside,
we were interrupted by the hum of wings.
Hummingbirds! Taking little sips of red liquid from the feeder.
We rarely saw hummingbirds back in Washington, so it was a real treat.
That is the day "crazy" Grandpa turned into "Grandpa Hummingbird".
Because he got us kids giggling as he flapped his wings, and pretended to sip red liquid from the feeder.
As I grew older, Grandpa would call me often from New York.
Each time he called, the conversation went something like this...
"Is this Shelli? Well, hello Shelli, this is a boy from down the street. I think you
are so beautiful, I really want to go out with you. Will you go out with me?
Maybe we could go rollerskating. Would you like to go rollerskating with me?"
And each time I would laugh and tell him I would love to rollerskate with him.
Then he would laugh and tell me it was really Grandpa Hummingbird.
As if I didn't know.
When I was 19, and away at college, my mom called to let me know
that Grandpa had passed away.
I was sure I hadn't heard her right, but I can still remember that punch in the gut.
I quietly went outside, sat against my roommate's old car tire, and balled my eyes out.
Did you know my Grandpa loved flowers?
He loved to garden.
The whole time I knew him, I was never interested in flowers.
Funny that it is one of my passions now.
Many years after he was gone, my mom gave me 2 wrinkled
packets of flower seeds and a note that she had tucked away from my Grandpa.
They are Zinnia seeds. One of my favorites.
And in his handwriting is my name written on each packet.
The note says, "Dear Debby (my mom), Just came back from the nursery.
New seeds. I get a big kick looking at seeds. These are for Shelli, NOT for you Debby! HA!"
Now..I get a kick out of that note.
And the fact that he bought Zinnia seeds for me when I was an uninterested teen.
A few years ago my Grandma gave me a leather bound book, and a small jewelry box.
Inside the book are clippings of Grandpa's tennis tournaments he played
as a young man in Buffalo, New York.
And in the jewelry box are several gold charms that he won playing tennis.
I do treasure these.
I love hummingbirds. I always have.
I have been lucky enough to see at least one every year that I have had a garden.
This year, the plants I put in to attract them had matured.
AND I tried a hummingbird feeder.
I love that I saw more hummingbirds this year than any other!
My kids laugh at my excitement when I see one...but they get it.
They never got to meet Grandpa, but they know the stories.
They know why hummingbirds make me happy.
And now so do you.
And now so do you.