The Story of the Bird Family

The Bird Family, 48" tall, mixed media on canvas ©Kellie Day
The Bird Family, 48" tall, mixed media on canvas ©Kellie Day

The Bird Family, 48″ tall, a mixed media bird diptych on canvas, Available

“This sky where we live is no place to lose your wings so love, love, love.” – Hafiz

I grew up knowing my mother’s side was the Bird family. But it was my cousin Kathleen, who reminded me after I finished this mixed media bird painting, that her middle name was Bird. I have been thinking a lot about the Birds ever since.

The real Bird family, my grandmother at left, her brother Bill, and their mother, my great grandmother "Nanna"

The real Bird family, my grandmother Kitty at left, her brother Bill, and their mother, my great grandmother “Nanna”. In Michigan

When we remember our ancestors, and look into the faces of those with traces of our own selves, we realize we are not alone. To know their story is a gift. I find it calming to be reminded of the lives they lead, in simpler times – in black and white times– where families sat around fire places and wore grand hats.

There are so many gaps in their stories, we never get to know. And we can only put them together in pieces from worn out photos.

I wonder what it was like for Granny, “Kitty”, in the depression, that caused her to never throw a scrap of food away. I wish I knew what her marriage was like, and who her father was. The man who died when she was 4, from tuberculosis. And the gracious manner of Uncle Bill, with his tall, commanding presence that always made me feel at home. A skill my brother has inherited.

The old photos looks simple and comforting, like everything was perfect. Although we know nothing can be. But that’s what we dream of, right? Somewhere to go back to, if only in our heads, where there was all the love in the world, and everything was perfect.

These are our stories. Not the ones in books, but our own very real past. These people are the foundation of who we are. And knowing them, the best we can, is a part of how we know ourselves.

3 Comments

  1. erika says:

    I love, love, love these!

  2. Karen Day says:

    Thank you Kellie for your deeply touching tribute to my mom, Uncle Bill, and Nana.. Your tribute overwhelms me. They are ingrained in my very being. I cannot say enough for these sweet people along with my dad, your grandfather John Keene, and Nana’s sister Aunt Hannah, and Aunt Helen, all who gave us stability and love after dad died. I am eternally grateful to each and everone, and all that they taught me. I asked what can I do to make up for all they did for us, my mom told me , “Pass it on”.

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