Tuesday, August 05, 2008


My grandmother, Mr. Bluejeans' mother, always said that if she came back she'd come back as a pelican.

She wasn't entirely sure about reincarnation, but the way she saw it, it would be foolish to take your chances and not have something good picked out in case you were asked what you'd like to be next. She also thought she stood a good chance of getting what she wanted. Other people would want to be rock stars or something. "Pelican," she would say, quickly, and go on to Heavenly Central Processing.

As she explained it, pelicans could fly, and she loved to travel, they lived by the ocean, which was a constant love of hers, and they got to eat a lot of seafood.

I don't know if she also knew that in medieval iconography they are symbols of charity, and of deep care for one's children, but in that sense pelicans were also an appropriate bird for her to relate to.

The pelican thing was a running sort-of-joke for decades, but since my grandmother's death last summer it has become a lovely, unexpected reminder of her. On her yahrtzeit in June, my mother spotted a v of them flying down by Ocean Beach. At my cousin's wedding, pelicans flew back and forth all day, guests at the wedding. (It occurred to me, watching a pair flying together, that my grandfather has undoubtedly been roped into being a pelican as well, and is considered odd in the flock for wanting to fly to Kansas, and preferring steak to fish.)

Whenever we see them, now, they are significant and wonderful, and I'm amazed by what a beautiful gift this has become for our family.

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