“Have you spotted a white feather yet,” my sister Karen asked me as we sat around the kitchen table at my parents’ house.
I knew what this white feather question was all about. My other sister Elizabeth told me she had a white feather following her on the beach, appearing and reappearing, swaying and swooshing in the breeze like a little companion or a phantom kite.
Everyone has seen some sign of my father since his passing earlier in the year, except for me.
I rolled my eyes, “No, I haven’t seen any white feathers. What is the deal with everyone thinking these white feathers are Dad speaking to us from the grave?”
“We’ve seen a bunch of white feathers with no seagulls or birds anywhere,” Karen explained, mentioning a white feather appearing on her kitchen table and a white feather on her car hood, “The feather was completely dry, not stuck on with water. It was a perfect feather. It’s a sign telling us Dad is okay and at peace.”
“I haven’t seen any white feathers,” My voice was curt and I shook my head thinking this white feather talk was a bunch of nonsense. Aren’t we adults? Fairy tales and fables were childhood hooey.
I know I wasn’t being nice. I know everyone is still reeling from Dad being gone. But I have had no visits from Dad in my dreams, no white feathers fluttering my way, no nothing; just my life continuing on without Dad.
For me, it’s like Dad hasn’t really left. My parents’ house still has his scent, his shirts still hang in the closet, and his last few elderly accessories are tucked in the corner of the family room: walker, cane, a bag of useless hearing aids and pill boxes. It is sad, eerie and creepy that Dad is not climbing up the stairs to join us for a cup of coffee. He has disappeared.
The other day when I pulled into my folks’ driveway, the sun shined, the garage door was open and I expected to see my dad sitting on a lawn chair, his face toward the sun enjoying its warmth. But he wasn’t there waiting for me so we could have a little chat and complain about the neighbor hacking down his hydrangea hedge so he is forced to look at their cars.
The evening following the feather talk with my sister, I searched my kitchen for gloves to wear while washing dishes. The gloves weren’t in my usual spot so I began to open other random doors and yanked open my son Shawn’s personal catch-all drawer. There, among the erasers, colored pencils and Silly Putty lay a large white feather.
“Well that doesn’t count,” I said out loud to no one in my kitchen.
My son found the feather in our yard years ago. I remember him picking it up, freshly fallen from a bird and he instantly put the tip of the feather in his mouth.
“Eww, take that out of your mouth! That is filthy,” I yelled, snatching the white feather away from his lips.
But Shawn insisted on keeping the plume, “I want to use it like a pen and get some ink.”
The quill was probably stashed away only to be forgotten until hours after my conversation with my sister and our white feather chat.
Shawn spotted me twirling the white feather between my fingertips, “What are you doing with my feather,” he asked.
I told him about the symbolism behind the white feather and how Auntie Karen and Auntie Bethie have seen white feather’s since Poppie’s death.
Shawn shrugged his shoulders, “I put the feather in the drawer a long time ago.”
I nodded, “It is funny how I happened to find it today and noticed it.”
Shawn agreed with a nod of his blonde fluffy head.
“I guess it’s just nice to think about Poppie, don’t you think?”
Shawn agreed with a smile, his fingers running along the soft white feather.