Sometimes a birdhouse isn’t JUST a birdhouse…
In February of 2014, my wife’s mom passed away. She left behind a home full of treasures (yeah, we’ll call them “treasures”) for which we were then responsible. One such treasure was a log cabin birdhouse that lived on my mother-in-law’s screened-in back porch.
I hadn’t ever really noticed it until one day a year after her passing we invited a friend over who wanted some terra cotta garden pots of which Mom had quite a few. As she was gathering up the pots that she wanted, she saw the log cabin birdhouse on the back porch and asked me if it was available too. I, in my enthusiastic state of trying to take care of things in my wife’s absence, said, “Yes. Of course! Please take it and love it.”
Do you know what the WRONG answer to that question actually was? Yep, you’ve got it—“Yes. Of course! Please take it and love it.” You see, my wife told me a few weeks before about the time she had given her mom a “log cabin” in the form of this very birdhouse. She gave her mom this log cabin as her mom had been raised in one as a true daughter of a coal miner in western Tennessee and always relished in her memories of growing up. She was a true Appalachian woman and took great joy in all things mountain-themed.
Our friend loaded up her gardening supplies and the log cabin birdhouse and left Mom’s home with arms heavy laden and very grateful.
As I was recounting our friend’s gratitude, I told my wife about the birdhouse finding a new home and it was then she reminded me of the story of the gift. And it was then I remembered that I had just, in essence, given away a precious piece of my wife’s memory of her mom.
In my haste to help rehome my mother-in-law’s treasures I gave away a log cabin birdhouse that meant so much more than a random yard tchotchke. It was a connection to my wife from her mom’s childhood.
I just had to make it right. I called our friend and explained the situation and thankfully she happily brought the birdhouse back. Marital crisis averted.
I’ve learned a lot through this treasure rehoming process: even when you (or me in this case) see a pile of sometimes dusty treasures and you’re eager to help find it a new home, remember that those treasures really meant something to the owner. Remember that a dusty log cabin birdhouse could represent a real log cabin in the hills of the Appalachian mountains and its new home really should be in your own backyard.