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My Parents Love of Children

by Jessica Michaels

I love birds - and Central Park had them. My parents loved children - and wanted to give small children more freedom than did other parents.

There's a picture of a toddler - black and white, Kodak - from the early 1960s. She's wearing a cowgirl outfit, and she's laughing. Her cowgirl hat sits firmly on her little head, as her brunette curls cascade from underneath.

She's laughing, and she's chasing birds. Somewhere in the background, maybe to the little girl's right, are a man's legs.He wears pinstripe pants, loose but not baggy.His arms are crossed, and you can see the heaviness and the life's experience in them.

He is her grandfather, and he took her to Central Park that day. Who knows who holds the camera? Her parents? A stranger? Someone or something has made the little girl laugh, and she is running with the pigeons. Her parents met in NYC, at NYC, so this city is their love song. This city is where they share their love with their toddler.

This city is where the grandfather wanders, looking for contraband Cuban cigars, and dandy hats.

The family arrives early in the morning and leaves late at night, a four-hour drive home, but eight hours on the road in one day is worth it to them.

The old man sits on a fence made of pudding stone.You can't see his face, but you know it's a special day for him, too. He is watching his granddaughter, The Bird Girl of Central Park, and he couldn't be prouder of her. She is in red, white, blue, a cowgirl with a cascade of brunette curls, and her parents release her from their grip, and let her run with the birds.

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