There’s a Dead Bird in My Freezer
I know, you’re thinking …. Everyone has a dead bird in the freezer. Chicken. Turkey. Cornish hen. Even a Turducken (Google it!). But I’m talking bird as in sparrow (this is just a wild guess, remember, I grew up in the Bronx. A bird to me is either small – a sparrow – or large – a pigeon.).
Here’s the story. As Sophia used to say on “Golden Girls,” picture it. Day after Thanksgiving. Early afternoon. My two granddaughters are with me. The older one is watching a Netflix movie with a bag of popcorn by her side. The younger is outside with me, making Stone Soup with real stones (gravel from my courtyard) and chatting away about consistency and taste. Suddenly, I remember the dead bird in the courtyard and say, “Would you like to see something interesting?”
We walk over to where the bird lies. A few moments of silence, then, “Can I pick it up?” What to do? Remember, I’m the grandma, not the mother, so I make a quick decision and hope to not offend. “Sure, but let’s put on some latex gloves first.” That done, Lila gently picks it up, strokes the soft white fur on the belly and asks plaintively, “Can I keep it?” Now this is tricky. One wrong answer and I can become the Bad Grandma. I think quickly. After all, she lives in an apartment in the city. I don’t think this dead bird would be a welcome addition and the parents are nowhere to be consulted with!
So, I give her some possibilities: Maybe Mommy and Daddy will let you take it home but since you’re on your way to your other grandma in Mass., you might be able to take it there and leave it in the forest. Another possibility is leave it here and, if a mouse, cat or snake (all of which I’ve seen outside my home) doesn’t get to it first, you can revisit it next time you come. The third option comes to me in a haze of memories past:
When my daughter (Lila’s mom) was in college, our pet Catfish, Blacky, died. My daughter insisted on burying it and convinced me to put it in the freezer until her school break so she could perform the ceremony. I did, she did, and it’s buried in our yard. So I told Lila we could put it in the freezer.
We found a small “casket” and Lila wrote a note on the inside. I shoved it in the freezer, between lentil soup and a box of White Castle burgers. There it will stay until she comes again. I am certain it will be the first thing she’ll ask about!