A Wise Old Owl
A Wise Old Owl
How Families Survive a Wicked One
From my voice to the paper by using Dragon Dictate – a writer’s dream – but this is the original draft, in need of some editing if it were written for print. There is a huge difference in storytelling – and what you need – compared to a finished copy.
“Tell me what I have done?”
Nothing, always nothing came from her lips.
“Ignore her – it was all plain jealousy on her Mama’s part; made her this way,” my Mama told me.
I learned when I gave birth to my own girl’s – I learned a mother’s heart and soul protects their young from all the hurt a world can dish out. You see, as a child, I wore this grin, but it never stopped me from picking fights when Mama wasn’t look’in.
I must say I would back away until the top of my head was about to blow off, then with a left hook, I hit boy or girl in my path. No I wasn’t a tom-boy, just tired of people tell’in fibs.
Mama told me, “Young lady you were born with cabinets of knowledge, but I was too afraid to use the key. “
Now I am here and Mama, she left this earth too soon, yet she kind of sneaks up every now and then to remind me she’s still watching. You know you do feel them, smell them, and this feeling of strength comes over you – I guess that’s the time I should be listening, cause Mama she told me she wouldn’t leave, she’d be floating above me.
When she was still here on earth she told me to confront the demon and ask those with dirty water in their mouths to repeat what they had to say. Now mind you she told me this when I was still in grade school, not a grown-up. But the chance arrived, I had the demon in one room, and the accused in the other.
“Repeat those words, tell me once more over there,” pointing to the spot where the accused was standing. “I want to hear you tell the same story, now, in front of that person.”
At first this girl gave me a look like some old wise punk from any street as children, then, I gently eased her into the other room. I told her again, “speak up, tell me the same thing – in front of this person who you claim said those words.”
There was silence, but I continued to push – “do I have to remind you or can’t you recall what you told me a few minutes ago?”
She wouldn’t talk, so I repeated what she said until I looked into her eyes, and she finally admitted she said those words – and the accused, denied ever saying anything; just a quizzical look, a raised eyebrow, and a shake of the head.
You see Mama, you told me to speak up when someone outright lies – I guess it was time for me to put an end to the nonsense I heard since I had to have this girl part of my growing up years. That is a story in itself, you see, she was a few months older than me, and her Mama was the wicked witch. No one told me this, I had the sense to feel it, before it was noticeable: A child knows when someone doesn’t care for them.
I believed it was time for her to live inside a cocoon or perhaps be covered in cellophane, stared at, talked about, pointed too, and for all those years she wore this evil smile – I crept away from a situation, there is just enough one can take when it comes to ignoring the same thing for a lifetime.
You see I do keep my wiser – old owl with me each day, and we still smile at one another, and I watch as her belly moves up and down when we get laugh’in, she laughs and makes a bad day better, except for this one day her face became serious – and she told me to sit, sit. I took the familiar seat at her kitchen table, and listened.
This would be the first time I saw her eyes fill with tears as she reached to grab my hand.
“It was tradition, nothing more. I feel bad I have nothing for you.”
I heard the story when I was young, how the trouble maker was the firstborn, and she would be the one to have my wise owl’s diamond. I looked her straight in her eyes and I covered her hand with mine and told her, “It is you I love, nothing makes me happy but having you here. You have taught me a lifetime of truths, a stepping stone for my own children, and I heard everything you said. I don’t need a ring, I only need you.”
She continued, “I did wrong.”
What is a tradition from your country is not wrong, it is your custom, and I respect this – you could do no wrong.
She stood and began searching inside a drawer for anything she could pass along to me, as I kept repeating I need you, just you. Please don’t worry, I will cherish you for the rest of my life – whispering to myself, “and others will forget.”
Now my Mama thought it was wrong since the girl never took a day to check on my owl, and I knew Mama had feelings too. I wasn’t about to fight about something that’s done and over with.
But my owl continued “I was wrong, you should have been the one to wear my ring, do you understand? You come here we talk, we laugh and you bring my favorite food, I know you feel love, and the other one doesn’t stop here when she is close by.” Her head kept moving back and forth, she was trying hard to think of something to hand me. I told her to sit and let’s talk about something better. Let’s laugh.
My wise old owl pinched my cheek, I knew by looking eye to eye – no words had to be exchanged – I reached to wrap my arms around her, “Love is not a material thing. Love is having years together, sharing stories while you tossed dried Italian bread for blackbirds, and knowing you would be here in the window waving when I left the house.”
That afternoon I learned my wise owl loved me for who I was and understood the trouble I had lived with most of my life.
My Mama knew what we were saying, we only lived downstairs, mother said, “From the day you were born her own mother the witch, took it out on you – I watched her shove you aside, and said nothing to keep peace in the family.
Did she have time to drop in and say hello to her own family, bring a loaf of bread – that bread – always dried up like some prune the next day – we did have crows in the yard. But once, her mama should have taught respect.” Mama continued to tell me she refused to visit after my birth, I lived for three months behind a wall of glass, fit into her hand she said.
“Do you think she could come – out of respect for the family, and at least drop by the hospital once to see you, no, she would not, she had her own daughter to attend to. I bet she never said a prayer.” Mama had heard enough that afternoon.
But, my wise old owl, she would open up her black bible, pray at her kitchen table, on her knees at her bedside, in the parlor, and every day she walked to church – and placed flowers on my Grandfather’s grave.
“You fit inside the palm of my hand,” Mama continued. She was Irish as Patty’s Pig, and I grew up hearing how small I was, ugly too. But her Papa, he never failed her, and even my Papa’s father – they were both dead but spoke to her.
The wicked one lived with her only daughter, she had no time to visit a child who would die, or stop and talk for a little while, to a new Mama and Papa grieving, a bit of hope or love was worth a million. But Mama needed no one to tell her I would live, she got that visit from her own Papa and my father’s Papa, both passed on years before – “Don’t worry, God had something planned for that little girl, and you or no doctor will believe different.
She will live, grow strong – and you will know when the time comes what God planned.”
So Mama, she never grieved and everyone thought she was crazy, not one baby back then made it through the night, and it had already been a few days. Everyday a doctor entered the room they told her the same story, and Mama smiled. I bet they were ready to place her in some crazy house.
One day after I had children of my own I asked the wicked one with her angel why she never visited me while I was in the hospital? She said exactly what I knew all my live, she was too busy with her own baby.
I should have laughed at her, or said something – I wasn’t surprised. I did ask why she didn’t find one second to stop and visit my parents. She once again snapped, she had a child of her own. I glanced over to her husband, who had this angry look on his face.
I learned about people, who to trust, or give a second chance, who to love, and who to leave behind.
I wanted to give the pain back to the witch, and her daughter – after my own Mama passed on, in some old box, tied with a bow, who my uncle really loved, and one day it would jump up and pester them, harass them, I wanted to be the wicked one.
I couldn’t play their game. I wanted to tell her all I knew about her past, to tell her to wipe away her false smile, and let her know her ignorance shows up on a blank wall – those old super eight film strips.
One evening when I visited my wise, old owl – I paused at her door, I knew she was waiting for me. As I entered the room I smiled, she was lying in bed, her arm reached out to pinch my cheek. I guess I had some powers of my own, I fibbed, kept telling my Papa I had the flu, I knew she was waiting for me, I knew she would die that night, people you see do wait for others. It would be the last day I would see her alive – in this world. It was difficult to go, and harder to leave.
I told her, “I love you,” and she said the same, as her boys followed one by one, I broke the ice – I watched. Between each kiss, she glanced my way – knowing it took a girl to open up the way through the light; her eyes were bright.
Difficult to go – to know this would be her last full day on earth – her face bright, her smile the same, she wasn’t sick, she was only a wise old owl.
When she passed – the wicked one blamed it on me, her daughter never made it home on time to say goodbye, but the wise old owl knew who she was waiting for, I thought to myself. I couldn’t believe this woman was still shoving me around, blaming me for the time my owl died.
Today I know the owl had no use for her – she too – gave up long ago – and her last wish – to pinch the cheeks of those she loved. To smile, before she saw the light.
The wicked one has lived on, “Only the good die young.” another saying I heard most of my life. I could sit back and feel I did what I could for my owl, and no one had to direct me. I learned my owl had no use for the wicked, she never wanted trouble – she too backed away from those who wanted to be in the way, for their own reason.
You see, as a child, I knew my owl, her heart broke more than once by the wicked – in the same room I could read my owls eyes. It wasn’t long before the wicked one’s daughter took up the reins confronting me with lies – she trained her well.
To her surprise I spoke out – words she spoke to me alone, within the pages of a book, then gave them a copy. Although it wasn’t enough to stop the daughter, I had enough strength passed on by my owl, to confront her, and she never faced me with another lie.
You see, I am the wise owl now.