Ó Copyright June 2012 by Philip Birmingham. All rights reserved.
This is to my grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and those not yet born.
I am now 80 years old as I wrote this, and I have had the pleasure of hugging and kissing all my grandchildren as I've watched you play and grow. All of you are a delight to my old heart, and I want to share with you some of the times of my life that I remember.
When I was a small child, just like you, I used to love the springtime, when all the dandelions would appear. There would be fields and fields of bright yellow flowers wherever I looked. The name dandelion comes from two French words, "dente de lion," which means tooth of the lion. If you look at the individual flower petals, you will see how they are shaped like a lion's tooth. Soon, the yellow flowers die, and turn into soft gray puffballs. If you pick one, and blow on the puffball, hundreds of tiny seeds take to the air with their little parachutes as they fly away to find a new place to grow. It is so much fun, but don't do it on your parent’s lawn.
Once, when I was a young boy, I used to play with several other boys, who were my friends, and one day they invited me to go hunting frogs. They gave me a big stick and we went to a pond they knew, and when we found frogs, we smashed them on the head with the sticks and killed them. My friends were all laughing. I finally killed a frog and when I saw the frog that I killed floating in the water, I picked him up in my hand and saw how cute he was. Then, suddenly, I was saddened and ashamed of what I had done.
We all went home after that, but the following day I went back to the pond by myself and caught a live frog. I played with him for several minutes, and I really looked at him closely. I noticed his tiny little fingers and toes. He was really cute looking, especially his face. Then I noticed his skin began to get sticky, so I dipped my left hand in the water from the pond and poured it over him, and he was then fine. Then I kissed him on the top of his head and let him go back into the water, and watched him swim away. After that, I never killed another frog. I discovered it was much more fun to catch them, play with them, and then let them go. Please don't ever hurt a frog.
There was another time when I did something I was ashamed of. When I grew up to be a teenager, I went hunting for rabbits with a rifle. I hunted all day long, but didn't see any. When I was leaving the woods, a chickadee bird landed on a limb above my head and began chirping. I wanted to shoot something, so I shot at the chickadee. The bullet hit him in the head, and he fell to the ground. I picked him up in my hand. His tiny body was still warm and he felt very soft. It really bothered me a lot, and like with the frog, I was ashamed at what I had done. Later on, in the fall, I went hunting with my step-father and some of his friends. We were hunting for deer. We hunted all day, but I did not see one, nor did I shoot at anything. I was glad I didn't shoot a deer, and decided after that I wanted no more of hunting.
Have you ever tamed a chipmunk, and had him eat seeds from your hand? They are very easy to tame, and with a little patience, they will hop up onto your hand and perch on your fingertips while they stuff seeds in their cheeks to bring back to their nest. They have sweet faces and they're very trusting. While they are eating out of your hand, raise your hand just a little bit, and keep doing that each time they come back to eat out of your hand. Soon they will keep stretching until they hop up on your fingertips and perch there. While they are stuffing their cheeks with seeds, they will keep looking at you. They are very, very trusting and are sweet little creatures.
Then I grew up in a married your grandmother, Jean. We loved each other very much and before I knew it, we had four children. Your aunt, Colleen, Uncle Phil, Uncle Mike and then Aunt Jennifer. Now one day I was filling a birdfeeder that we had hanging from a clothesline. While I had some seeds in my hand, a chickadee landed on the clothesline just a few inches away. He looked at me for a few seconds and then flew down and landed on my thumb. Then he cocked his head way one and another and flew down into the palm of my hand, where he picked up a seed. He looked at me once more, then flew away. Now no one can know for sure, but I think the good Lord sent that chickadee to me to tell me I was forgiven for hurting a chickadee so many years ago. I remember thinking, "I wish my wife Jean could see this." What I didn't know was that she was looking at me through the kitchen window, and I heard her say, "What did it feel like on your finger?"
Well, I could tell you much more, but it would take a long, long time. I hope all of you children do some of these things and many more as you grow up. What ever you do, please don't ever hurt an animal, especially elephants, flamingos, chickadees, frogs, or chipmunks. And if you do pet a frog and kiss him on the head, or feed a chipmunk and tame him, or feed a chickadee, then just close your eyes and picture your heart beating, and look – just look and see how beautiful you are. God bless from your grandfather.