It took a year to spread my mother’s ashes, but I guess sometimes it takes that. The water was empty when my big brother Joe poured her remains into the lake early Saturday morning, but in no less than a minute a mama duck floated by with two babies, and then three more came and joined the flank. I was cooler than I should have been when they floated over mom’s ashes, which by then had taken on a mystical green, cinematic-special-effect sort of shade.
“That’s us” I said to Joe, watching a goofy grin spread across his face, and he does not do goofy grins much.
The formation was also uncannily spot-on with respect to our sibling order. Three babies near Mama Duck like our three youngest brothers who were as close in age as children could be between pregnancy cycles. Two were out ahead of the pack, one a little more than the other, seemingly the three years separating me and big brother.
Before the awesomeness of that completely settled in, the colorful Papa Duck came paddling up from the behind on the left, kind of doing his own thing. Just like our dad who never really invested in the father thing.
This might sound woo-woo, but I have never seen a formation of ducks like this come out of nowhere, and somehow I know I never will again. I do know that just for those moments, in that place, it brought our heavy hearts the kind of signature comfort, peace and lightness that only a mom could orchestrate from beyond, and whether she actually did or not, it’s still our story.
Also it had special significance because when Mom passed last year, I was a little pouty that she didn’t circle around me on her way out in a blaze of light and stardust, like something Disney. She was a big kid and I have a big span of things I think possible, so why not? When I shared my fizzled expectation with a wise friend, she tried to comfort me with these words, “I think your mom had a little too much going on at the time to manage that for you” and I laughed through tears.
Mom more than made up for it that Saturday at the lake though with the duck family parade. It wasn’t the light show I asked for, but something better. See for yourself.
To Mom power, here and beyond,