I learned during childhood that my Mom was afraid of birds. This fear was rooted in an incident from her own youth. You see, she often stayed with her Grandmother who ran a subsistence farm. On one of those visits, a chicken had just been “dispatched” the old fashioned way with an axe which resulted in the bird performing a “post-beheading” dance across the barnyard directly into my mother.
As I was growing up, we lived next door to an older couple and Mom and the neighbor lady (who we called “Aunt Peg”) were quite close. Aunt Peg took great pride in her flower gardens and was an avid bird watcher, having a number of feeder stations in her back yard. So you can imagine the air space around our house was busy with fluttering wings and this tended to keep Mom from spending time outdoors in the yard. On one occasion, a bird got into our house which caused my mother quite a panic.
Flash forward 50 years to 2012 and Mom was diagnosed with advance stage colon cancer. Surgery was successful in removing a softball-sized tumor but the disease weakened her to a state that put her just over the line for assisted living, requiring her to have long-term care. Outside the window of Mom’s room in the nursing facility are several bird feeders and during her early, mostly bed-ridden days there, she passed time watching the avian callers. On nearly every visit, Mom would describe a bird she’d seen and ask if I could identify the species. Her daily inquiries led me to purchase her Stan Tekiela’s “Birds of New York” field guide so she could enjoy her bird watching more completely and keep a checklist.
Once the weather warmed and Mom regained much of her previous strength, her bird watching moved to the outdoors to a bench near the feeders where she enjoyed their company as they flew to and fro. Imagine the joy I felt now that the fear of birds Mom carried all those years had disappeared allowing us to share one of my greatest passions.
Mom passed over a few days ago and while my heart is very heavy, I am elated that she had discovered the joy, beauty and wonder of the bird world before leaving this reality. Fly with your new friends, Mom – one day we will again enjoy the feathered world together. Much love…