Growing up our lives revolved around superstitions. My Mother had one for every occasion or event, everything from the fear of Friday the 13th to dropping a knife on the floor. I know that my Mother wasn’t the only person to hold to these superstitions but to this date I have never met another person who believed as many or as strongly as she did. I thought I would spend this month leading up to Halloween telling stories of things that happened in not only my childhood but in the lives of my Ancestors that helped form most of my Mothers superstition beliefs or were a result of her beliefs. I will post a blog every Friday and Tuesday and I hope you will enjoy them and even get a laugh or two out of them.
Superstition #2: A bird in the house is a sign of death
Me at 12 years old.
For my 12th birthday all I wanted was a parakeet. I had always loved birds and as a young girl I even cut out pictures of birdsand pasted them in a scrapbook. My favorite was the Mountain Bluebird. When I told my parents what I would like my Dad immediately agreed. He felt it would be a great experience for me as I would learn to be responsible for the care and feeding of the bird. My Mom had other ideas. She believed that having a bird in the house was bad luck. They were an omen of impending death to someone in the family. Why would we want to invite something like that into our home? Her reasons for not having a bird far outweighed my reasons for wanting one. I was devastated.
When I got home from school on my birthday, which by chance was January, Friday the 13th, I walked into my bedroom and there it was, a brand new shiny bird cage with a beautiful blue parakeet singing away inside. I was so happy I cried. My Mom came to the bedroom door and with a very serious voice informed me that the care and feeding of the bird was all my responsibility and at no time was I to let it out of the cage. I had a hard time deciding what to name the bird so after much thought I named him “Red”.
Over the next 2 months I taught Red how to wolf whistle, say “pretty bird” and “hello”. I realized that since I got the bird my Mom no longer came into my bedroom. It was like suddenly I had some privacy and freedom. Knowing that she avoided my room I began to let Red out of his cage and let him fly around the room. I would practice my clarinet and Red would come and sit on the end of it and look up inside the instrument as I played.
This was the type and color of our car!
About the same time that I got Red my parents made the decision to move our family to Missouri. They put the house up for sale and it sold faster than they anticipated. So at the end of March we packed all our belongings into a U-Haul trailer and hit the road. From Tucson AZ to Independence MO it was about a 1200 mile trip. My Mom didn’t want us to bring Red but my Dad over-ruled her. So with Red, sitting comfortably in his cage settled into the back seat between me and my sister we began our journey.
We were in New Mexico, somewhere between Tularosa and Carrizozo, traveling through some mountainous roads when we came over a mountain incline a little faster than we should. The next thing we knew the trailer began to weave from side to side. My Dad tried to correct it by jerking the steering wheel the opposite direction but this only made it worse. I don’t know how long the hill was but we weaved from side to side almost all the way to the bottom, at one point almost going over the edge of the mountain. When we got close to the bottom of the hill we were actually facing the wrong way. My Dad decided to drive back up the hill instead of turning around. When we reached the top he stopped. At this point the trailer fell off the hitch!
It was at this point that I thought to make sure that Red was alright. I saw the cage sitting between me and my sister, the top had popped off and one side had caved in and Red was nowhere to be found. I began to panic looking everywhere. I looked towards the front seat and I saw my Mom sitting there shaking and crying hysterically. Then I noticed, sitting on the top of her head was Red. My Mom was so upset she didn’t feel him there. I slowly reached up and grabbed him placing him back in the damaged cage and placing my pillow over it.
It took about 30 minutes before another vehicle came by and it just so happened to be a man in a truck with a heavy duty jack. He stopped and helped my Dad reconnect the trailer and we were on our way. My Mom was uncharacteristically quiet for the rest of the day. When we stopped for the night my Dad helped me put the birdcage back together and he suggested I leave Red in the car for the night. When I went into the room my Mom was sitting on the bed and she told me what had happened was entirely my fault because we had to bring that D@#n bird. She wanted me to release him before the next morning. Thankfully my Dad stepped in and convinced her to let me keep him although nothing could convince her that having the bird in the vehicle did not cause the accident.
So what did eventually happen to Red? About a year later I had let Red out of his cage in my room so he could get some exercise. I was sitting on the couch in the living room practicing my clarinet and my Mom asked me to play a song from the Hymnal that she kept in the bookcase. She got up from the couch and instead of going straight to the bookcase she opened my bedroom door so she could take yell at my sister to get ready for school. She then closed the door, retrieved the Hymnal and sat down next to me. I played the song and when I was done my Mom took the book and got up to put it back. I looked down on where my Mom was sitting and there was Red, dead with a broken neck! Apparently he flew out when my Mom went in my room and we hadn’t noticed. He must have seen the clarinet and decided to sit next to me so he could enjoy the music. My Mom swears that she never saw him there. I buried him in the back yard.
Along with this Superstition my Mother had all the regular ones too. You know like:
If your left ear itches, someone is speaking ill of you.
You lick your right thumb push it into your left palm and hit it with your Right fist for good luck when you see a white horse.
Never say thank you to a person if they give you a plant as the plant will die.
Do you or anyone in your family have a Superstition? I would love to hear about them.
Come back on Friday for the next installment of “My Mothers Superstitions – Tales from the Dark Side.”
I am a professional genealogist, writer, photographer, crafter, reader, wife, mother, and grandma. I have two books available on Amazon.com: Your Family History: Doing It Right the First Time and Planning Your Genealogy Research Trip. You can also connect with me via Facebook or Twitter.