Grama’s Birthday by Trudy A. Martinez
Today is not my birthday: that day passed weeks ago but here stands Elijah and Charity, wishing me happy birthday, handing me a present, asking me to open it, gleaming with joy from anticipation.
The package they hand me is a work of art: personality spills from its hand painting design; each stroke tells a story, filling my heart with joy; each color depicts a mood, an emotion springs from it, leaping at my heartstrings.
There is a cake waiting for us to eat so I need to get along with my story.
“I painted this!” Elijah exclaims, smiling as he points to his design. “Charity painted this,” he continues as his words spring to life in the ears of his little sister standing next to him, waiting her turn to speak.
“Open it Grama!” her words ring out, sprinkling the air with the soft tones of her voice.
“Do you know what it is?” Elijah queries.
“No,” I reply, “Can you tell me?”
“Can’t tell. Can’t tell, Grama, Elijah!” Charity’s reprimanding voice rings out.
“No-O-O-O-O-O.” Elijah answers, dragging out the one syllable word, lingering it in the air momentarily before he adds, “You need to open it, Grama”.
My fingers already begin to carefully undue the paper from one of the packages. The paper is unique as it is homemade; the designs are drawings Elijah and Charity make. The pictures will make a perfect addition to my refrigerator door that houses and adorns such treasures.
My two-prize possessions hang from a loop chain attached to a magnet on that door: pacifiers, one blue one and one pink one. The blue one Elijah gave me a few years back. The pink one Charity reluctantly gave up on her second birthday. She was not forced to give it up; she did so willingly, but it is a difficult decision for her to make. I remember. She stood at a distance from me, covering her eyes. She knew it is her birthday; she knew she is going to give up her infancy with the passing of her prize possession to my refrigerator door and thereafter, ‘patsy’ will be my prize possession. My thoughts are suddenly brought back to the present with the sounds of voices:
“Come on, Grama, hurry up–Open it”, Elijah says.
“Open it,” repeats Charity.
“Here,” Elijah adds, reaching for the other end of the package, ripping the paper off quickly. Charity in the meantime, picks up the other package and quickly opens it for me.
“Here, Grama, here’s your present.”
“Thanks honey that is a pretty cup. Why, that is my name on it: Grama. It’s a Grama cup.”
Elijah just finishing the unwrapping of the other present proudly holds it up for me to admire. “Do you know what it is, Grama?”
I look it over. It looks like a milk carton, but windows are cut out of each side. There are also two small holes in each side. In addition, it has been painted all over with paint, different colors of paint. There is a separate stick that goes with it. On the top of the structure, a rope like twine is attached to it on both sides. “Hm mm,” I think, “I wonder what this beautiful creation is?” Elijah and Charity eagerly wait for a reply. I was taking too long to guess and they are extremely anxious to tell me.
“It’s a bird feeder, Grama!” Charity exclaims.
“You put seed in here,” Elijah explains“, and then you put the stick through here,” he continues, “And the birds come and eat the seed”.
“They come and eat the seed.” Charity echoes, smiling.
“It is beautiful”, I say, “I know just the place to hang it.” We go to the patio, hang the bird feeder, and then, come back inside to watch and wait, but no birds come.
“They’ll come”, Elijah and Charity assure me. Nevertheless, the birds did not come and Elijah and Charity went home.
A few days later, Kit, my cat, starts jumping, running, and acting real crazy. She sits at the patio door, swinging her tail back and forth, faster and faster her tail goes back and forth. She’s trying to get my attention so I will let her outside. I open the blinds and see there is a bunch of little visitors in my backyard: birds perch on the bird feeder on the little stick that sticks out from the side. Birds are walking on the ground, pecking at the seed their friends up above drop on the ground from the pretty bird feeder Elijah and Charity made for me.
I immediately call Elijah and Charity on the telephone to tell them about the little visitors. They are not home. I leave a message. Here is what I say:
“That beautiful bird feeder you gave me for my birthday is bringing joy. There are lots of birds in my backyard where before there was none. The birds are eating the seed. I keep filling it up with more and more seed because they are very, very, hungry. Need to go now–just want you to know–love you.
Oh yeah, Kit likes it too. She likes it so much. She jumps, runs, and acts real crazy. She wants to go outside with the birds. She wants to catch them, but they fly away when they see she is coming out. Love you–Bye.”