The story my brother tells on the morning of my 94 year-old grandmother Ella May passing, on Mother’s Day, is a Mother’s Day miracle.

It’s been ten years since my Mom called with the sad news of Grandma Ella passing in her sleep. My husband and I were hiking and I hurt knowing my mom would always associate this once happy day with her mother’s death.  But this changed when my brother recounted the gift of a hummingbird and Ella’s farewell to my mom.

It was early in the morning and my brother got up and looked out the kitchen window.  He saw our mother sitting out on the patio slumped over, crying.  Our folks were staying with James for the weekend and when he went out to mom, she told him that grandma was gone.

James sat down next to her and they held each other while crying over the news.  Suddenly they both heard a loud thrumming sound and observed a hummingbird hovering next to our mother’s shoulder.

They made eye contact with the bird for what seemed minutes, but was likely only several seconds until the bird flitted off with renewed purpose.

In that instance they both felt it was Grandma giving them one final farewell.

From that moment, the hummingbird has had special meaning for our family.

No wonder since the hummingbird is a common symbol of God’s ”tiny miracle”.  Our family believes this after my brother and mother’s encounter.

Left to right: Great Grandma Elsie McConnell, Grandma Ella Pherrill (author Denise as baby on her lap), and Patricia Nantais (Denise’s mom)

As far back as the bible, the hummingbird is referred to as being a special messenger from heaven, tenderly coaxing us to move forward and let go of the people or things that have passed on.  It reminds us that they  are forever parted from our lives.

These tiny birds have a long history in folklore and symbolism in native cultures, as well.  In Native American cultures, hummingbirds represent healers and bearers of love, good luck and joy.  The Aztecs regarded them as messengers between their tribesmen and their ancestors or their gods.  In Central America, they are seen as a sign of love and love will come to the person who sees one.

Because some hummingbirds can travel up to 2000 miles to reach their destination, they are considered to be a symbol of tenacity and endurance.  They have a unique ability to fly backwards, sideways, stationary and up and down.  Hummingbirds are the only birds able to fly moving their wings in a figure eight pattern, making them symbolic of eternity, continuity and infinity.

Many people think of the hummingbird as a sign from angels, prompting one to do what makes you happy and to enjoy the present moment at hand.  It’s said that when a loved one has passed, the bird signals the peaceful crossing over of a deceased person .

But my story doesn’t end here.  Several months ago, I was in our garden, when I suddenly heard what sounded like a very large bee next to my ear.  I turned and saw a vibrant green hummingbird hovering above my shoulder!  We looked at each other and I softly said to it “Hi Grandma”. It dipped its head and flew away.

I still get awestruck when I recall this special encounter.  My son who observed the scene from a window, immediately came outside and remarked, “What was that!?”

I was happy he saw it too and confirmed that it had really happened.  “Yes, that was your great Grandma telling us she is okay”, I replied.

The hummingbird has become our family’s spirit animal and we think of Grandma whenever one flies into our garden.  Mother’s Day is now  a reminder of the wonderful  woman who loved us unconditionally and gave us so many happy memories.

Denise Benson

Author Denise Benson

Denise Benson is a photographer, creative writer and traveler. Discovering new ideas, people, places and cultures is a lifelong passion, which Denise enjoys sharing with her readers using her unique perspective as a photographic storyteller. An avid sailor, she and her husband Brian have sailed 10,000 blue water miles exploring the South Pacific. Along with sailing, she enjoys travel, food & wine, books and nature related activities, including napping on the fore-deck of her boat, Moonstone.

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