I always admired a duck that I gave to my Gma for her birthday when I was about four years old. My mom told me that I could pick anything out in the only jewelry store in the tiny Iowa town where I was raised and I selected the most beautiful piece of poultry that my young eyes had ever seen. I mean, what’s not to love about a greenish, purplish, blueish, yellowish, its color depends-on-the-kind-of-light you hold it in (my motto of the gaudier the better began at birth, apparently) four-inch duck figurine?
I assumed that Gma absolutely adored this duck. She kept it in her china hutch for as long as I can remember, prominently (I clearly mistook for proudly) displayed on the front shelf and every time she caught me peering at it through the fancy glass doors, she’d remind me that I gave her that bird. When she moved to a new address and sold the duck’s hutch home, she moved its nest to the top of her TV.
As Gma has gotten older, she downsized her square footage and began weeding out her ‘pretties’ (as she calls them). And the gift givers have received their presents of past back (I now own a frame with “Best Grandma Ever” engraved on its front and a magnet that says “Home is where your Grandma is,” – lucky me). Because of her love of the birthday duck, I was shocked when it was one of the chosen pretties she handed to me a few years ago.
Never one to mince words, Gma said “that’s the ugliest damn duck I ever saw,” (I now see where I inherited my bluntness) and put it into a box for me. Wondering why in the hell she ever kept the ugly duckling in exhibition for decades, as I went to set it next to her picture in my mini manse it dawned on me. She kept the heinous bird out for the same reason I’m keeping it on my beautiful mirrored dresser (where the duck sticks out like a quack in a pack of meows) – it reminds me of her. It’s one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
So as Gma turns 90 years old today in Iowa, the ugly duckling and I (and of course, Teddy) will be toasting our Skinny Pirates in celebration of her feistiness (and the fact that the f’ing duck never got sold at a garage sale since she thought it was so unsightly).
Happy Birthday to one helluva lady!