My mother’s life has been in the balance for the past several days as my siblings and I have fluctuated between hoping for the best and preparing for the worst while she is in critical condition with a severe blood infection. There is now little hope, and telling my two children that the odds are not in their grandmother’s favor was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done. They love her deeply, as we all do, and they wish she wasn’t in such pain so that they could embrace her and tell her how much they have always admired her curiosity and quirkiness and how she has taught them an appreciation for nature, the night sky and the “small” things in life.
It probably won’t surprise anyone that one of my own ways of coping and finding comfort during this sad chapter has been to put on my reporter’s hat and ask questions, take notes and recall family stories. And there is one thing in particular about my mom that is making me smile.
For many years, ever since she “swiped” a Native American tradition and went on a personal vision quest, my mother’s power animal, or, more appropriately, her power bird, has been the snowy owl. She has a nice collection of snowy owl pictures, pillows, figurines and Christmas ornaments, making it easy to always find her the perfect present for birthdays and holidays.
Several years ago, while shopping in Glastonbury, England, not far from Stonehenge, I stumbled upon “The Wonky Broomstick,” a small sorcery shop tucked inside an alley off the village’s main thoroughfare. As soon as I stepped into the store, I spotted a display case of bird jewelry, including the snowy owl necklace shown in the photo below. I carried the handcrafted pendant with me in a little black satin bag to Stonehenge, where my family had arranged a British Heritage walk amongst the ancient stones after hours, at sunset.
As the sun appeared in the middle of the Great Trilithon, I stood in the center of Stonehenge, clutching an owl necklace, made by a genuine Wiccan. What could be more magical than that?
Of course, my mother loved her souvenir and the story behind it. She wore her snowy owl necklace often, and soon after I gave it to her, I began to notice something humorous, but unmistakable: My mother, with her round face, short silver hair and big black eyeglass frames, actually looks like a snowy owl.
As I gently rubbed soothing lavender cream on her face, arms and hands the other day, I knew that I could not bear to tell my family’s beautiful owl woman to “fly away.” It is her choice to make, and hers alone. Come what may, though, I will never look at a snowy owl in the same way. And when my mother does take wing from her pain, I will be wearing that magical necklace close to my heart. ❤️