Four more days. Then, I'll be heading to San Juan Capistrano to take my elderly mama to see the Swallows return.
It's amazing. How do these birds migrate to Goya, Argentina, only to return year after year -- always on the same day? March 19. I have never seen it in person, but I do see it every year on the news.
My mama grew up in that area as a little girl. But, the last time she saw the birds, she was 10 years old. That was 75 years ago! She's always longed to go back and year after year and when I see it on the news, I regret that I didn't take her.
This year I'm taking her. Last Christmas, I wrapped a child's book (the only one I could find) about the Swallows, and while she opened the present, I played the 1939 classic "When the Swallows Return" -- she opened the gift, saw the "gift" certificate and hotel accomodation info and broke down crying.
Now, you should see my mama. She's like a little girl. For the past three weeks, she's talked about it every day! Telling me stories of how the Mission bells would start ringing when the birds are spotted in the city. And how hundreds of them are suddenly seen, flying to the San Juan Capistrano Mission. Sometimes she wipes away a tear, but mostly, I can see her drifting away to another time -- and I can almost see them -- flying, closer and closer and bells ringing and people cheering..... I can't wait...
It's going to be a bit bittersweet. You see, my mom has always said that she did not want to die before going back to see the swallows.
And, at 85, I realize that I need to treasure every day I have with her.
Four more days. Then we will go see the Swallows return...
March 23, 2006 : Edit to Add
I guess it is true - you can never go back again. My mom was a little disappointed that we did not see the Swallows that she remembered. She saw two or three - but that was it. I tried to explain that these were scouts -- and that the weather had prevented them from arriving. (lots of rain the past two weeks) But she insisted that it didn't matter - there were dozens of scouts on the days prior to the thousands of Swallows that would arrive. But, we had a nice time. I got to spend time with her and we laughed and talked a bit. I got to see a group of Swallows (about 25 of them) that flew by me as I sat in the gardens of the mission at San Juan Capistrano; but my mom was enjoying the mariachi and folkloric dance show and had requested to stay by the stage. (we were there five hours and she enjoyed her front-row seat to the show for two hours of it) I enjoyed walking around and entering the gorgeous church! (Catholic churches are so awesome)
Well...as it turns out -- swallows also arrive in Three Rivers (20 minutes away from me!) LOL -- so, I might take my mom to the Swallows Return celebration -- just for fun.