My fingers run over the curves, appreciating them one last time. I put it to my nose and I take a deep breath, taking the woody scent in and wishing I could carry the smell with me always. Although small in stature, the old wooden toy has become such a big part of my life. I had carried it through all the phases of my life up to this point. It is time to part with it, I know. I am filled with pride at the idea of passing it on to my son, Roy. My son would have something to carry with him in life, too, even after I am no longer around. I hope it would offer my son, my dear boy, as much comfort as it did me, that it would make difficult times seem less hard, and lonely nights seem less alone.

I was only 5 years old when my father called me into the living room, motioning me to take a seat next to him. Young as I was, I remember it all so clearly, the memory of it all so precious that my mind has been clinging to it all these years. I can still recall how excited my father was, eyes shimmering as he presented something wrapped in paper. “This was mine when I was your age, Lucas, and now it’s going to be yours,” he said softly. I was filled with wonder as he placed the package in my hands with great care. I looked at him until he shook his head, gesturing me to go ahead, to unwrap the gift.

It was smaller than I thought, but it was magical. It was a tiny wooden sculpture of a hummingbird wings spread wide as if in flight. I looked at the bird, and back to my father, who had tears in his eyes. I didn’t know why he was emotional. He told me that the bird was a reminder that we could always rise up, be better. It told us that our problems should never drag us down, but most of all, that we were free to be who we were. I couldn’t believe it, the power this little piece of wood had. It was like magic, and I treasured it immediately, I still do.

All through my school years, the bird was on my bedside table, as my bedding changed from Peanuts to a cars theme and finally just a solid blue sheet. I held it many nights as I yearned for my father, tears running down my face that I hid from my mother. I didn’t like her seeing me sad. She expected me to be the man of the house. The bird could see my tears, as I cried night after night.

On a Thursday that seemed as ordinary as any, the phone rang, and my mother came to pieces after speaking for a minute. She was hysterical and I knew what it meant. I had been waiting for this day, not even realizing it. I ran to my room, closed the door, grabbed the bird, holding it to my heart and wept. My father was gone. The war had taken him. All I had of him was the small wooden sculpture.

Years later when I left for college, the bird went with me. It had a special place on my shelf next to the photo of my parents. It sat there silently for years, witnessing my first kiss, first rejection, and the first time I smoked weed. It was there when Carrie came to visit me in my room for the first time, Carrie who would later become my wife, my everything. The bird witnessed my proposal and the tears that followed as we both cried. The day I was greeted by the most beautiful woman walking down the aisle towards me, the bird was sitting comfortably in my pocket. It made me feel like my dad was there, that he shared this perfect day.

The bird moved into the first house I bought for my pregnant wife and me. It met my newborn baby the day he came home. As Roy grew from a baby to the toddler, I told him stories of the bird, of its wonder. My son would look at me with his big eyes and I’d be taken back to the day I got the gift from my father, my father who would leave for the war the next day, never returning.

“Roy, come in here, buddy,” I say with a lump in my throat. The gorgeous boy comes running into the living room. He has his mother’s hair, curly and wild framing his perfectly formed face. True beauty, I know, surrounds me in this house. He looks at me expectantly as I motion for him to have a seat next to me. “I have something to give you, Roy,” I say and I can’t help but chuckle at his expression, absolute excitement. I take his little hands in one of mine and place the wrapped bird in his hands. His fingers curl up, holding the gift. His face breaks into a smile and he wraps his arms around me. I hold him like this for as long as I can before he pulls away, not wanting this moment to end.  He opens the package and holds the bird with all the gentleness of a new mother holding her newborn. His fingers run over the curves, and he lifts it to his nose.

“Thank you, Daddy,” he says sincerely and looks concerned when he realizes I am crying. One day he’ll understand why I’m crying, the way I now know why my father cried. I want to remember this moment as clearly as I can, and carry it with me as I leave my homeland and travel to a foreign hostile land. I want to carry my son’s perfect face with me as I fight for my life.

Knowing that Roy would have the bird with him as he walks through his life, fills me with relief, my father would watch over him when I can’t. 

September 28, 2020 13:12

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Nolan Muller
06:06 Sep 29, 2020

Beautiful story!


Louise Muller
07:57 Oct 04, 2020

Thank you, Nolan. 💕


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