We didn't mind them, but they were the bane of my father's existence. He spent most of his life trying to make the watermelon patch out back into a cash crop, and the crows would eat them before they could grow beyond seedlings. About every half hour he'd shout "Boys! Crows!" and that would be our signal to grab a couple of brooms and chase the crows off of the watermelons. They always came back.
It's just my mom and her nurse there now. I took off the day I turned 18, left California all together, and ended up in St. Louis. Ronald joined the army, came back a bit worse for wear, and started a family outside of Phoenix - he works in some sort of technical job. Dad died of a heart attack with a broom in his hand, but he got his wish: for one reason or another, the crows are gone now, too. There are still watermelons; Ronald and I pay a couple of gardeners to see to that. I like to think that the watermelons are his gravestone - his eternal monument, growing anew every year.
Ronald goes back to the Rookery now and then to see Mom, but I don't dare. It's simply too depressing for me to see what kind of shape my mother is in, and the things my mother will say. She doesn't recognize me; mostly she just stares at her hand, or fills nonsense into crossword puzzles. Occasionally she'll spout some gibberish, like "did you ever see a bear combing his hair?" or "did you ever see a nail that looked kind of pale?" I never know what to say, and I can't handle that. 55 years old, a successful man, husband and father, and I don't even know what to say to my Mother. In that awkward second when she asks her questions, I'm a failure.
Mom is far gone enough now that most days she doesn't remember me at all, but I remember her. The crisp linen smell of her dress - it always smelled line linen, even when it was splattered with watermelon juice like one of those colorful Jackie Kennedy dresses that were popular when Ronald and I were little. We used to joke that the dirty dresses made her fashionable. And they did.
When Ronald came to tell her she was going to be a grandma, she just stared at him for a while, then finally said, "Did you ever see a llama wearing his pajamas?"
Down by the bay, where the watermelons grow. Back to my home, I dare not go. For if I do, my mother will say "did you ever see a moose kissing a goose?"
Down by the bay.
(I wrote this about 5 years ago and rediscovered it today)