For some, the jaybird’s tail will stick out behind | Sally Robison

When things went bad, Grandmother would say, “Always remember and bear in mind, the jaybird’s tail sticks out behind.”

Stop here.

I can read your minds. You are thinking, “That’s the dumbest thing I have ever heard,” but hear me out.

Family and friends knew exactly what she meant. One reason was she said, “Always remember...” with a soothing voice; the second reason was that eventually it made sense and I couldn’t forget it.

For example, when Nixon was elected president, I could hear Grandmother’s words about the jaybird and his tail.

Then there were both Bushes. Praise be! I had the jaybird to comfort me.

Grandmother was dead by then, but her wisdom stayed with us.

You may not ask, “What does it exactly mean?”

Does it mean that no matter what goes wrong in the jaybird’s life, say a missed opportunity for a snack, a rejection by an attractive she-jaybird, or a hawk circling with lunch on his mind, he, the jaybird, could look back and see he still had his tail and that jaybird life would continue? He was of one piece and he would carry on.

With the elections coming up, I try to keep the jaybird in my mind again, for what horrors might await if the McCain/Palin ticket is elected?

Back to Grandmother.

She was an optimistic voter, a life-long Democrat with ancestors stretching back to the Civil War (War between the States).

She wasn’t perfect; she had her prejudices. She told me if God had wanted the black population to mix with the white population he wouldn’t have made red birds and blue birds. (She seemed to be affixed to bird idioms.)

I forgave her for her prejudices for they were no different than those held by the town. As I have said, she is long dead, but if she were alive, she might pull out the oft-used jaybird and be comforted because of her recalcitrant granddaughter.

Of course, I hope Obama wins because he is the best of all candidates, but knowing how prejudice runs deep in America, I am trying not to think of what it would be like if the others won.

Actually, when I think of that, I want to fall across the bed for four years and put a soundproof pillow over my head and wait until 2012 arrives.

Fortunately I am cheered by the news of a friend, a lifelong Republican, who announced, “I am voting for Obama.”

I thought to myself, “My work is done.” But is it?

There are my radically conservative cousins and mainstream friends who attend the Republican Women’s Club.

I sometimes look in while they discuss Republicanism at the Wing Point Country Club. I feel like a mole, until a friend calls out, “Come join us.”

I decline.

Now I am thinking that it is time to join them just for a few minutes, make amends for all the rotten things I have said about their President Bush, then, in a new daze of charity, announce, “My Grandmother said when things don’t work out your way, ‘Always remember and bear in mind, the jaybird’s tail sticks out behind.’”

That will be my final shot over their bow, then I shall leave feeling selfless and soothing while my listeners sit dazed and bewildered.

Let’s hope that they – not me – are thinking of the jaybird after the election.

Sally Robison is a Winslow artist and the author of “The Permanent Guest’s

Guide to Bainbridge Island.”

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