The Flamingo Covered Mirror
The house was much cleaner that it had been in recent years. My Dad had found a good deal of time for vacuuming and stacking since his most recent wife had run off to pursue the empty promise of an 18 dollar an hour paycheck in the deep south. The dogs were down to two and he was debating selling his truck.
“If I could get out from under it and get something smaller that was all paid up, then I might be able to get some of this other debt taken care of.” He started another pot of coffee and pulled the non-dairy creamer tub out of the pantry. “Then there is all the shit around here, I have no idea what to do with half of it.”
He sat back down as the drip- drip- drip started. “I would like to get that storage unit cleared out and settled up.”
When my Grandma had passed Dad rented a storage unit half way between his little town and the next town over. He had filled it with everything that was left in my Grandparents home after the rest of the family had picked over what they wanted passed into their own thread of the lineage.
“There is just so much stuff from their house that I don’t know what to do with. Like the flamingo mirror. It’s such a great story but where am I going to put a 60 year old mirror covered in flamingos?” I looked around at his beginning attempts to bachelorize the ten-year-old track house. My dad was engaged in two very serious battles. One war was being waged against several generations of super fleas and one against anything pink or floral print.
I am always searching for opportunities to feel in my marrow that I have come from a real somewhere. These opportunities, I have found, are quite often buried under musty quilts in dark corners. They are also frequently covered in flamingos. “You know Dad I have been looking for a mirror.”
“Well you could certainly take this one. It was hanging up in their house forever.” I was surprised to hear that. I remembered their house, the one they moved too before I was born but after they had both retired, very well. I walked the halls in my mind but not a single flamingo covered mirror did I find.
“ Yeah, maybe we can run down to the unit later. What’s the story with it?”
The Flamingo Covered Mirror
My grandmother had a psychic gift. Passed down from her own grandmother on her mothers side, the psychic ability skips a generation always jumping into it’s new host in a new manifestation.
My grandmothers’ grandmother had been a healer in rural New Mexico. Fort Sumner to be exact, the birthplace of Billy the Kid. Her first name was left behind somewhere, perhaps with the truth about her husband’s Indian blood, in Oklahoma when they moved. She was known to her family and to everyone miles around as Nama, Nama Meyers.
She was the only one around who knew how to fix people up so anytime someone was hurt or having a baby or sick or dying the people came for Nama. Her husband, in the middle of the night, saw her most public expression of the psychic gene.
Seemingly unprovoked she would rise from his side and begin to pack her bag full of her tools and her medicines. He would holler, “Where are you goin Nama?” and she would reply, “Someone’s coming for me.” Sure enough, as soon as she latched shut her case they would hear the horses.
Two generations later her daughters’ daughter would be born with an incredible ability to guess correctly every time any gift that was ever being given to her. Four sons and a devoted husband tried endlessly to surprise her with everything they could think of. Eventually she stopped guessing what the children had gotten her because she could not lie and their little hearts would break every time they failed.
One day before my Dad was born, when the family lived in Puyallup, and my Grandpa worked at the chemical factory responsible for the leukemia that eventually killed him, he got a surprise. An unexpected raise had been given to him.
He saw a golden opportunity. Surely he would be able to bring his young wife a gift she didn’t anticipate when she did not even know the money existed. He stopped by a department store on his normal route home and chose a mirror (to hear my dad tell it) that was covered in flamingos.
He hid it in the backseat of his car. Pulled into the drive and walked casually inside. My grandma turned to look at him when she heard the door and said with a smile, “Aren’t you going to bring my new mirror inside?”
He held up the mirror and examined it after loosening it from its place under many more years of gifts my grandmother had mysteriously known about. “Oh I guess they are storks or pelicans or something.”
When he turned the mirror around for me to see I smiled my grandmothers smile. Two Japanese cranes stood hand painted on canvas surrounded by inlaid mirror. I was taken back to the room I slept in when I visited them, my little body laying across from this mirror reading funny books waiting for it to be late enough in the morning for me to go jump on the two old birds in the next room.
I know that Japanese cranes mate for life and dance the most beautiful dances to each other. I know because I watched them do it every time I got to visit my grandparents.