Years after my dear sweet Birdy ended up under the taxidermy dome waiting for his little Styrofoam body to decay, my mother took my husband and me to a séance in Gettysburg, PA. The séance was billed as a “historical reenactment” of a Civil War era séance. Gettysburg is filled with ghost tours and reenactors, so the séance reenactment seemed like a natural extension of the activities.
My mother didn’t bring us because she thought that we would be able to get in touch with long dead relatives. She just thought it would be interesting and had a professional interest in how they ran their program. When you have a room at the Inn that your children refer (somewhat) lovingly to as the “Dead Room” due to its prevailing decorations of hair wreaths and Victorian mourning memorabilia, curiosity about all things Victorian and dead starts to seem a bit more justified.
As we waited for the séance to begin, we were all given pieces of paper to write down the name of a departed person we wanted to communicate with on the other side. I think my husband wrote Dan Fogelberg (He is a bit obsessed with him). I did some dead president. And my mother wrote down Birdy, my Styrofoam bird.
We went into the room, which was decorated in a passable manner. My mother’s dead room is without question much classier and much creepier than that poor reenactor’s. The table shook, and the woman broke character a few times. She was dressed in period costume, pretending to be Victorian, and saying things like Okay and guys. Really lady? Get it together.
Anyway, it comes time for her to contact the dead, and in her creepy “I’m trying to be Professor Trelawny” voice she says, “I’m feeling something. Someone is trying to contract me from the other side. It’s a female presence. I’m hearing a B name.”
My mother looked around the room, and no one else had raised their hand. So my mother said in the most serious tone, “Birdy?”
“Yes! Birdy.” The woman cried. “I’m sensing someone important. Someone around you all the time.”
“Yes,” my mother said as she gripped my hand painfully under the table.
“And the name, it was a nickname. Birdy… she seemed to fly around all the time.” The woman said.
“Birdy wants you to know that she’s fine. She is watching you all the time, and she is so proud of you.” The woman said, her face screwed up in a way that I can only think was meant to look like she was crying from Birdy’s overwhelming emotion flowing through her body, but really, it just looked like she was pooing.
The woman went on to talk to everyone about dead mother leaving messages of love and blah, blah, blah. One woman in particular was in genuine tears because she actually seemed to think her dead mother was contacting her at a reenactment of a séance. Which seemed pretty silly to me since every sign for the event very specifically said “reenactment,” but whatever.
I don’t really believe in séances or talking to ghosts, but if I did, and if that woman weren’t a reenactor in a costume with a zipper, I would like to think that Birdy was watching us all the time from his perch on the piano. And that the Styrofoam in his soul frothed with pride as he watched his family succeed.