Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The Death of Rocket Power
It started like an ordinary day. I was cleaning out a storage room in the back yard when my daughter, Christy, and her 4-year-old son, Raymers, arrived. Before I could get out to greet them, Raymers came running in excitedly exclaiming "Grammy, you've got to see this.. come on!!" I asked what I had to see. He said, "a baby bird fell out of a house and its all dead!!!"
So I went out to see the hapless bird and, sure enough, there it was lying in the carport below a birdhouse. Christy found a flowerpot close at hand and scooped the baby bird up in it. She gave the pot to Raymers when he insisted on holding it. Christy and I discussed what one does with a dead bird, and decided the proper thing would be to bury it. Raymers asked what "bury" meant and we explained as well as we could to an impressionable 4 year old. Raymers said, "NO YOU CAN'T BURY HIM, HE"S MY PET!!..................... ", and after a pause, “my dead pet."
At this point Christy and I both lost it. We didn't just laugh, we howled. Raymers looked at us so seriously and we tried very hard not to laugh.
I went in to change my pants…
When I got back out Christy had convinced Raymers we needed to bury his "pet" and then suggested we bury him in the garden. Raymers stated an emphatic "NO.. WE CAN'T BURY HIM IN THE GARDEN.. HE'LL GET TILLED BY PAPA!!!!"
Up until this point Christy and I were still laughing; trying to hide it but still hysterically laughing. With the “bird getting tilled” remark we doubled over laughing again. We were both in pain and telling each other to “STOP IT”.. Poor little Raymers was watching us with a confused look and still being totally serious. He kept asking us "why are you laughing?". Christy, with tears streaming down her cheeks, explained to her confused son that we weren’t really laughing.. we were sad and were crying. How else would you explain our hysterics to a child attending his first funeral?
We decided the bird might, indeed, get tilled if we buried him in the garden and instead we found a corner by the fence that had been tilled so the ground was soft but was out of the "Papa might till again" area. Christy dug a hole and Raymers poured the bird out of the flowerpot into the grave. We were still weak from laughing and couldn't see for the tears in our eyes but Christy managed to ask Raymers if he wanted to name the bird. Raymers looked into the hole at the bird; it’s graying skin showing through the scattering of white feathers, its head twisted weirdly to one side, one leg almost gone, one skinny pink “elbow” where a wing could one day have been, and said seriously "his name is Rocket Power".
I went in to change my pants…
After we finished burying Rocket Power, Christy built a little cross and we talked about Rocket going to heaven. Raymers wisely stated, "yes he will go to bird heaven". As we carried the cross out to put it in the ground, Raymers said, seriously, "I hope we don't stick it in the baby bird".
I went in to start the washer…..
Raymers found two more dead birds that summer and both were given a proper burial and laid to rest beside Rocket Power. Eventually the crosses were pulled from the ground and nailed to the fence as a permanent monument to the Rocket Power family.