Recently we traveled from Florida to the outskirts of San Antonio for a long overdue visit with my dad and step-mom. One of the perks of visiting the grandparents, are the grandbirds. My children adore them. In a bid to ease their empty nest, over the years my dad and step-mom have taken on the care of various types of small birds. They are extremely tame since they have been hand fed since bursting out of their respective eggs.
You might say that they rule the roost, as it were. They sit at the dinner table, and eat ice cream from spoons. Which can give them the scoots. And they are not house broken. Nay. This is why I always pack a canister of clorox wipes and make liberal use of them prior to setting the table for dinner.
Cooking duties happily fall squarely on my shoulders whenever I visit, and I know that a home cooked meal is appreciated by my dad and step-mom, who are both not in great health. A horrible by-product of getting older is that your parents get even older. These thoughts make me wish I lived closer so that I could help them more.
Right after we arrived, my first job was to peruse the pantry, refrigerator, and outside freezer to determine what I had on hand for dining options. My dad and step-mom are of the generation that pretty much saves every scrap of food. Poking around in their stuffed-to-the-gills freezer is often a flash back in time. Although nothing is dated (except for an occasional expired expiration date), there is packaging that I’m quite certain belongs to companies long since dissolved.
But because I have a deep and abiding passion for food, this process is like a trip to Disney World for me.
I began poking around in the top section of the freezer moving aside the frost bitten corndogs. There, perched atop the ice cream bars was a nondescript brown paper bag. I peered inside and saw something wrapped in a paper towel. I felt of it, but decided there was not enough to it to be deemed a protein source (or even a good snacking opportunity), so I crammed it back into the small open space at the top of the freezer shelf.
Just then I hear my father’s voice waft out into the garage, “DON’T BOTHER THE BROWN PAPER BAG!”
“There’s a dead bird in there.”
I recoiled from the freezer.
“THERE’S A DEAD BIRD IN THE FREEZER?”
“WHY IS THERE A DEAD BIRD IN THE FREEZER?”
My dad, who has never been ruffled by my hysteria calmly replied, “We can’t decide whether to have it stuffed or cremated.”
“CREMATED? WHERE? LIKE IN THE FIRE PLACE?” He chuckled (like I was the crazy one) and moved on.
Okay. So there was a dead bird interred in the garage freezer. Atop the Skinny Cow ice cream sandwiches. Allrightythen.
I decided to plan my menu from fresh ingredients procured from the local grocery store, so I headed over to my dad’s desk for a pad of paper and pen. I looked up to see my dad’s favorite bird, Jeffy, perched on a branch staring down at me. Not blinking. Ever.
Wait. “Dad? ISN’T JEFFY DEAD?”
“Yes, remember? We had him stuffed.”
As opposed to flash frozen.
I forgot. Jeffy met with an untimely death when he miscalculated the distance from the wall to the door a couple of years ago. And so he now sits, watching over all who enter the room.
Not at all creepy.
If you’ve ever wondered why I may be a candidate for psychological study, wonder no more. This is just a small glimpse into my upbringing.
And why I cannot ever watch Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds without running for cover screaming MY EYES, MY EYES.