By the time we arrive in our seventh decade, most of us have lost a number of loved ones. Some of those individuals might have been ancestors who were mentors, or those who changed our lives in some way. Ancestors can also be places we’ve visited that deeply influenced us.
During the Covid-19 pandemic lockdown, I found myself with a lot of time to ponder my ancestors and how they’ve influenced my life. At the same time a daily hummingbird visited the red flowers outside my writing studio window. It didn’t take me long to ascertain that this beautiful visitor was my maternal grandmother, who died when I was 10.
She made herself known in a way that I cannot describe, but it’s important to note that she has had a strong presence in my life since her passing nearly 60 years ago, so much so that for decades, I’ve had a photo of her on my desk.
Our connection began when she was my caretaker and the person who inspired the writer and reader in me. When I was about eight years old, my grandmother taught me to type and write stories using the Remington typewriter perched on the vanity in her room beside mine.
I wish she would have shared more stories of her younger life with me, because the older I get, the more I realize that telling our stories and hearing the stories of others we admire can help us navigate our own journeys. Now, as a grandmother, I’m doing my part in sharing pertinent stories with my own grandchildren.
Many intuitive individuals believe that hummingbirds are the greatest proof of messages from heaven. When settling down to sleep at night, these birds have the ability to lower their metabolism to the minimum necessary to sustain life. To conserve energy, their metabolism comes to an almost complete standstill. They can also easily travel backward, which reminds us that it’s okay to look to our past and connect with memories of loved ones who have passed away.
Our ancestors influence us more than we think. The pandemic hummingbird arrived at important moments, such as when I was dealing with personal or familial challenges, like when my 93-year-old mother had Covid and my husband was ill.
Sometimes when it visited, I asked it a question and heard my grandmother’s answer. In addition to visits such as hummingbirds, there are other ways our ancestors visit us. The important thing is that we pay attention to signs. Some people have found their ancestors appearing in the form of butterflies, wild animals, pictures, rainbows, slogans, coins, billboards, electrical interferences (such as flashing lights or cell phone), music, feathers, and certain numerical sequences.
While over the years I’ve had some of these types of occurrences, there was something very powerful about those lockdown hummingbird visits. I felt a renewed sense of hope and ability to see life’s larger picture. The hummingbird also had a calming effect on me and gave me a sense of hope, reminding me that everything will be okay.
In Ancestral Medicine: Rituals for Personal and Family Healing (2017), Dr. Daniel Foor says that connecting with our ancestors is beneficial for our psychological and physical health. Not only can it boost our confidence and intellectual performance, it also makes us aware of family predispositions that can benefit us and future generations, in addition to helping to promote forgiveness.
Those who are connected with their ancestors often feel more supported and comfortable in their skin. One way to heal intergenerational trauma is to connect with our ancestors. After reading this, I realized that there was a reason that my grandmother was visiting me, and I waited for her messages.
Having hope is critical, especially when dealing with challenging times, tragedy, illness, the possibility of death, or even surviving a pandemic. My grandmother was orphaned during World War I, while at the same time surviving the cholera epidemic. To her credit, she never lost hope, until when she was in her early 60s and decided to end her life by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.
While reflecting back on her life I thought about all the trauma she encountered and wondered how trauma can get passed down from one generation to the next and how that affects us as we navigate our own journey.
Wishing you a healing and prosperous 2024. May you also be blessed with connecting to your ancestors during this year of the Dragon, which, according to Chinese culture, brings both luck and power.
If, like me, you’d like to explore more about hummingbirds and ancestral messages, please check out my recent book, Hummingbird: Messages from My Ancestors, A Memoir with Reflection and Writing Prompts.
What role have your ancestors played in your life? Is there someone in your family tree that you hold especially dear? Why or why not?