Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Birds of My Mother

On Sunday afternoon Erin & I were winding down from a fun-filled weekend. Erin took out the recycling from the kitchen to the bin by our garages while I futzed around in the kitchen with some cheese and crackers. When she returned to the house, she said Baby...there's a bird on the driveway not moving at all. It might be dead.

I didn't really do much thinking, I just walked to the door and asked her to show me where. She pointed the bird out, and I opened the front door to go check it out. I bent down and saw the bird was still alive. I reached my hand out slowly and the bird did not flinch away from me. I felt in my bones that I needed to help this bird.

I called the local animal hospital and they told me to bring the bird in. I grabbed a couple of towels and a paper Gap bag, and went outside. As I approached the bird this time, he began to breathe heavily, look frantically around himself and chirp, presumably for help. Trying not to scare him, I reached with the towel and tried to pick him up. He turned away and began to flutter his wings. He left poop behind on the pavement where he'd just been still. His wings would not work, but he still fluttered them and continued to hop away from me. Just before he reached the fence between our driveway and the neighbor's enclosed grassy area, I scooped him up into the towel and lightly wrapped it around him. I promised him I wouldn't hurt him and that I'd take him to a safe place.

And so I did.

In thinking about the events of the afternoon, it took me maybe 30 minutes to check on the bird, make the call, scoop him up, and drop him off at the animal hospital. When I got home we went about the rest of our evening as if it never happened. And the following morning I couldn't shake the feeling that something divine had happened with that bird.

When I stood at our front door and looked at the bird sitting in the driveway, I felt an immediate connection to him. I also felt an immediate connection to my mother. I didn't hear her voice, but I felt her spirit in every cell in my body. For a split second, I wondered if I should take the bird in and try to rehabilitate it. Until I realized that wasn't me at all, but my mother.

She would have nursed that bird back to health on her own. That's just what she did. And that's just why we had 4 rescued dogs and 8 rescued cats and 3 rescued birds when I was growing up. These weren't animals that she went to the pound or a shelter to save, these were animals she happened upon and couldn't help but take care of them.

Through this experience I get to see how my mom and I are both different and the same. My mom tried to save everything and everyone who crossed her path. Sometimes this was a godsend. And sometimes it was a futile attempt at saving people and things that didn't want to be "saved".

My mother bred me a strong inclination to help others. I have a rescued dog of my own, which we got from a shelter, and 2 rescued cats birthed from a cat I found in the parking lot after a softball game one night 11 years ago. But I've learned that I can't help everyone or everything.

My mother would have taken in that bird and known exactly what to do to get it healthy. That's who she was. Me, I know nothing of how to get an injured bird healthy. I feel like I honored my mother in saving that bird, and honored myself by taking him to a place that could actually help him. This gives me peace.

I don't know why it's important for me to share this story, maybe I just want to share the connection I felt to my mom in order to make it more real. I just know that my "decision" to help happened so fast that I missed the connection to my mother to begin with.

Which is why I'm glad I went back for reflection.

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