Aunt Jo’s been gone a month now. Only a month, and while at times it feels like a hundred years ago, it also feels like yesterday.
I’ll bet Aunt Jo single-handedly kept Hallmark in business, as she never missed an occasion to send a card. And on every single one there was a rodent. It was a family joke dating back many decades. Whether a squirrel, mouse, chipmunk, hamster, or rat, if there wasn’t already a rodent on the card, she taped a picture in!
And then there were the crows. While other people consider them nasty, carrion-eating, loudly squawking creatures, she fed them on her patio every day. She named the six or seven that came for their handout, and insisted she could tell them apart.
The day she died, crows en masse visited many of us who were close to her. Mine appeared on the beach approach. I had gone out there to watch the waves for awhile (a.k.a. pray), and when I turned the car around, the approach was black with crows! Never, in all my 35 years living here, have I ever seen 50 or 60 crows gathered together on the beach like that, just standing on the sand.
I drove slowly through them, and they simply meandered to the side to let me pass. Only one rose in flight, and he/she flew just in front of my car, leading the way back to the pavement and then flew up to a telephone pole to watch me drive by.
“One crow sorrow/ Two crows joy/ Three crows a wedding/ Four crows a boy. / Five crows silver/ Six crows gold/ Seven crows a secret/ Never to be told.”
I learned that poem as a kid, and throughout my life I’ve counted the crows like I’ve read my horoscope: Simply for amusement. But on that particular day, I considered that lone crow to be my own flying fortune cookie: One crow sorrow.
Love you, Aunt Jo.