Today would have been my mom’s 89th birthday. Her name was Rose. (And her sisters were Violet, Iris, and Daisy. Her brothers were not, as she liked to joke, named after weeds.) She passed over in 2015. Mostly I am ok without her. Sometimes it’s easier that she’s not here to see what I’m grappling with. Lately I miss her more than ever.
Thanks to Perdita Finn and The Way of the Rose community, I’ve been making special efforts to connect with my ancestors. So to honor my mom today, I stopped by the store for a dozen roses to place on my ancestors altar for her and a cake to share with Cade (because “Grandma Banana” was always up for sweets). Once I got home, Lily Luminara Sparklepants and I went out for a walk but didn’t make it even 25 yards past the door. She led me right to one of my new favorite trees, tucked away on a hillside with a bit of privacy. She tracked a squirrel there, who ran up the trunk partway, but instead of barking at or chasing it, she and the squirrel locked eyes and stayed that way. I felt something shift both in my body and in the space around us. I just stood there holding her leash, expecting her to bark or take chase at any point. She never did. After a moment, I realized this wasn’t just any squirrel; this was my mom’s birthday. This was one of those times when my mom’s soul shows up in a squirrel’s body. The first time was several months after her passing, sitting in a circle with friends in Rocky Mountain National Park. I had no idea that I’d end up living just 90 minutes from there two years later. My mom loved to watch squirrels so it is no surprise that’s how she visits me. So I sat down on the grass and it was my turn to lock eyes with the squirrel. Lily looked back at me and sat down, as if acknowledging that the connection had been made and her role in the plan was complete. After about another five minutes, I heard chattering in the tree behind us. I looked up and saw a second squirrel, watching me watching the first squirrel. This squirrel was a talker! (If you knew my mom… LOL) We spent another 15 minutes sitting there. Lily laid down, I let the tension out of my shoulders and decided to just settle in for as long as this was going to last—me watching the first squirrel while being watched by the second squirrel while my squirrel-crazy dog acted like she doesn’t live to chase squirrels (like if a dog could do that whistling-and-pretending-not-to-notice thing, that’s what Lily would have been doing). Somewhere close to the 30-minute point, I realized I’d lost track of the second squirrel. I assumed it must have moved on. I kept sitting. A few minutes later, a small section of fresh tree growth seemingly fell out of the sky and nearly hit me, about 20 leaves worth, so not tiny. I looked directly up—way, way, way up—and there was the second squirrel. Two more sections came down right next to me. I started to laugh and arranged them in a triad. I thanked the squirrels for the conversation, and I thanked the trees for providing the setting and for witnessing. I thanked the clouds for shielding me from the sun for long enough to experience all of this, and I thanked the breeze for blowing just enough to keep my mind present in the moment. Then the first squirrel ran to the top of the evergreen and out of sight. The second squirrel took off across the tree tops. Lily stood up, turned around and then—I could have sworn—smiled at me. Happy Birthday, Mom. 🌹