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The Blue Bird

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Dear friends,

I remember the early days of Saturday Night Live. I remember Chevy Chase before he the Vacation movies--and Dan Akroyd before Driving Miss Daisy proved he was more than a comedian. And I remember the night Lorne Michaels played a skit opposite Garret Morris.

That story in particular came back to me this afternoon as I was going through a drawer full of crafting materials. Near the bottom of the drawer was a tiny pin on a card. The pin was a Blue Bird. The card said. "Wear a Blue Bird of happiness to cheer and brighten your day."

In the SNL skit Morris played Uncle Remus, the legendary inventor of the Br'er Rabbit stories I remember from my youth. Br'er Rabbit was always getting into scrapes of one kind or another. Remus is about to launch into a tale when there is a knock at the door.

Michaels enters and--at first--Remus is happy to see a fellow story-teller. But he quickly learns that Michaels is a man too serious by half. He is appalled to hear that Michaels has been rewriting the Br'er Rabbit stories to give them a darker twist. Michaels tells the story of Br'er Rabbit having been caught by a pack of not-very-bright wolves. The Rabbit tells his foes they can do whatever they like with him, so long as they do not throw him in the nearby briar patch.

In the original story the wolves decide that is precisely what they will do. As a result, Br'er Rabbit escapes because they cannot get at him.

But Michaels tells Remus that in his version the wolves respect Rabbit's wishes and eat him instead.

Remus is horrified by this outcome and asks Michaels: "But what about the Blue Bird of happiness?"

Michaels reaches into his pocket and pulls out a dead bird. "You mean this thing? I found it dead on the path outside," he says as he tosses it to Remus.

Neither Jane nor I ever saw a Blue Bird in the wild. But we had a stained glass ornament that hung in our front window until after her funeral. I took it down then because I could not bear the irony: the Blue BIrd that was at the center of my happiness was gone. Seeing it there every day mocked me.

I still laugh. I still smile. But neither the laughter nor the smiles yet penetrate fully to my soul. And when i found that Blue Bird at the bottom of the drawer the tears came with that sudden grief I keep trying to explain--and failing to explain. Near it was a picture Jane had cut out with a pair of scissors that creates a fancy border. The picture was of a plaque with an inscription: "The time to be happy is now. The place to be happy is here."

I am not much for lapel pins, but I had a meeting to go to tonight. I took the Blue Bird from its card and pinned it to my suit.



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Harry, that is so touching. I am glad you wore the lapel pin...good for you. I am sorry you hurt so much. I understand. Mary

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