This is part of a series I’ve shared from time to time about Amelia and how she wants to be the first chicken to fly to the moon and back. Here is the most recent posting if you are a new reader or just want a refresher before reading today’s story.
“Amelia, I’ve made a bag of sunflower kernels for you, just in case you decide it’s time to travel far away when I’m not here.”
Amelia studied it carefully.
“There’s a sturdy loop of red yarn you can put your head through. It will be easier for you to carry around your neck, and you won’t lose it by accident.”
She looked at me the way she so often does, trying to figure out what it all meant.
So I explained, “This doesn’t mean I want you to go. It just means if you do go, I want you to be able to make your journey safely.”
She nodded to show she understood.
“And Amelia, there is just one more thing I put in there. It’s a little book for you with some drawings I made when I was just in the first grade.”
“What is first grade?” she asked.
“First grade is sort of like when you are just starting to learn what you need to learn in life. It’s like the first time you ever went outside to play on your own and to discover the world.”
“Or sort of like what you might be doing now.”
“It sounds important. Don’t you want to keep it for yourself?”
“No. I’d rather you have it. I folded it up small so it won’t get in your way when you are flying. And I think it might help you if you want to come back home, but can’t.”
“I just want you to promise me you will read it only if you find that you are lost and want to get back home but can’t. It won’t mean much of anything to you otherwise.
“I know you’re worried about that. I don’t want your worrying to keep you from doing something you need to do.
“It’s not like any of the other stories I tell you and the others because it is to help you find your way home, but only if you want to come home and can’t.”
Amelia looked at the bag with its sturdy red yard and then back at me.
“Yes. I promise. I’m not sure I will be able to read any of the words.”
“It’s okay if you don’t know the words. I wrote it when I didn’t know very many words at all myself. So the pictures will tell the story for you…if you find you need them.”
“Does your story have a name?”
“Not really. But if you think it needs one after you read it, if you need to read it, you can give it one. Then you can tell me what it is.”
“Sometimes, like right now, I don’t understand you.”
“It’s fine when you do. It is fine when you don’t. I love you whether you understand me or not.”
“It’s like you know I will come back to tell you the names of the story…if I leave, I mean.”
“Maybe you aren’t the only one who wants to know if you can travel far away and not be afraid. Maybe I do too.”
Amelia looked surprised, but didn’t say anything.
“Maybe you aren’t the only one who wants to make sure you can get back home if your heart desires but can’t without help.“
“You must love me very much.”
“I do, Amelia. Indeed I do.”
“Would you teach me to read and write words. I might like to write a book about my travels one day. And it would help me read your book better if I ever needed it.”
“Yes, I will. We can get started right away. I have a feeling there is a great deal already in you that is worth writing down.”
I hung her homemade travel bag with its loop of red yarn where she could get to it. All she would need to do would be to fly up and out of the top of the doorway. The loose loop would fit over her head as she flew out and away. It would carry the only gifts I could give her for her journey. There were sunflower kernels for her body and a book for her heart.
And so Amelia began to learn to read and write. I didn’t need to teach her how to draw. She had watched me enough and had a natural talent for making marks, as all chickens do.
She learned a dozen words, the words I thought might be most important for her to know. Then there was no more time.
My Life With Gracie (and especially Amelia) taught me sometimes there is more to a gift than what is seen.
It looks like this may be my next writing project tentatively titled “Conversations With Amelia.” In my mind, it is shaping up to be more like a novel than a collection of stories like “Seasons Of Friendship.” This would mean, I think, fewer illustrations and no “chicken wisdom” at the end of each chapter.
If you’re thinking the small folded-up book in Amelia’s travel bag will be important, you just may be right! And if you are guessing the small folded-up book is based on something I actually made in first grade and still have, you just may be right again!