September 5, 2016 § Leave a comment
December 20, 2015 § Leave a comment
As of this year, my mother has been dead for the last seven. My father the last four. I’ve told this story to my friends over and over, but it resonates with me and my soul with such intensity. This simple event changed my life in so many ways and has given my “vessel” a strong rudder to keep and correct my course. So I will now relate here a story about my mother that some of my friends know so well.
When I was a young boy between five and twelve years of age, we lived in a basement apartment that was part of a house that had a large backyard with several tall trees and a small carriage house in the middle. The yard was big enough for one so young to play, imagine and explore. One of these trees was a pine, I used to climb it doing what small boys do. I would pick up the pine needles, collect pine cones. Behind the carriage were two large trees with a swing hanging off one of the high branches, and a large wood burning grill made of river rock. During the spring time I would go “out back” and light up my imagination and have the great adventures that only little boys live out. Every once in awhile, I would find a baby bird that fell out of it’s nest and take it inside to try to nurse it back to health.
The first chick I ever found, my parents actually got a small bird cage and even helped me try to nurse it back. We spoon fed the little one with water, bugs and even cut up worms! These were the best times with my parents. They made it a real team effort , and in part was instrumental in developing my sense of empathy. I also had a personal agenda at that time. I really wanted to have a pet, any pet. I was given goldfish several times during my youth, they only lived a few weeks after putting them in my little fish bowl. My mother had to flush each one down the toilet with me scratching my head trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. After awhile, my folks stopped getting the fish. I’m not sure if they knew this, but I was a little relieved. I couldn’t bring myself to kill anymore fish. The birds where a special thing with the family, the fact that I found them and wanted to rescue them seemed to please my parents. My dad asked, “What will you do when the chick is grown?” I replied with glee, “I’ll keep it as a pet!” Looking back I think this response disturbed them, my mom the most. Dad had a faint smile and said to me, “Well son, that’s quite a responsibility.”
I still had school since summer break hadn’t come yet, and I would have to leave the bird to my parents care. I would come home and eventually the little bird would be gone and I would ask, “Where is he? What happened?” At which my mom or dad would say, “It didn’t make it honey, he ( or she ) died.” I never doubted my parents, they tried as hard as I would if I were there. A couple of my rescues died before my own eyes. It broke my heart, but I was determined to do better next time. A few years later, I found another chick. A sparrow right next to the carriage house, very young just getting her feathers. We did the usual, spoon feedings, intense attention and care. This little bird was different. She was getting stronger, and she responded positively with each feeding. It seemed I could look her in the eye, and she in turn would look back. At least I hoped that was what was happening. I had fallen in love.
One of my favorite stories I used to read when I was this age, ( I can’t remember the title or the author, perhaps dear reader you might know! ) was a story about a male bald eagle. It recounts his early life as an eaglet, growing being nurtured by doting raptors, then eventually to be driven out to the “wild”to fend for himself. He finds a mate, and with her builds their first nest and lays their first eggs. Only to have the tree felled by a logger. The end of the story finds them circling their ruined home, mournfully screeching wondering if they could ever start again. As I have grown this story guided me to join Greenpeace and advocate against worldwide de-forestation and all the other horrors that human greed has wrought against the planet. As you can see the last part of the story hit me right away. Man versus nature. NATURE must be saved! But it’s the first part that I’m finally coming to terms with how important it is when it comes to love.
Well, the little sparrow was growing fast! And when I came to feed her she seemed almost glad to see me, like, “Hey! You’re here! I like seeing you! Feed me, and I will gladly chirp for you!” I was in love! I was happy. I finally had my “pet”. Mom was impressed. She knew my intensions, and helped with the bird anyway she could. Then one afternoon coming home from school, excited to see my new friend, I just happened to go the backyard and there I caught my mother. She had hung the birdcage with the sparrow inside to one of the low lying branches of the pine tree. She was opening the cage door. “Mom!” I exclaimed, “What are doing?!” She turned in shock and saw my face, angry, hurt and confused. She ran toward me leaving the gate of the cage opened. Truth be told, life with mother was never easy. And in turn life with her eldest child was probably less so for her. Our path was the hard one. But it was rich and in time as we both got older, reaped the benefits of understanding and love. But now here she comes, like a woman possessed. She is going to stop me from whatever I was thinking of doing. She grabbed me firmly by the shoulders and stood behind me, making me watch as my “pet” slowly was coming out of the cage. The sparrow the took flight! Flew away, gone, never to be seen by me again. “Why mom? Why did you do that? She belonged to me.” Mom, still standing behind me now put her arms fully around me feeling my anger. “Rick, you found this bird outside in the wild, she didn’t belong to anyone. It needs to fly away it deserves to be free, you gave her that chance. It’s okay to feel this way though. I’ll feel this when you leave home.” She then lightly shoved me away turned heel and started back for the house. “Don’t stay out to late.” She said as if nothing had happened, “I made dinner and I’m not your slave.”
I never came upon a lost chick ever again. I began to grow myself, and through the remaining years my relationship with my parents grew too. It was rough sometimes, but I never doubted their love for me and they in turn never doubted mine. One day I did fly off never to come home again. Then many years later, the cage of life opened for my mom and she quickly flew out. I will never see her alive again! The lesson in letting go rings in my head and my heart ever so strongly now. I got married and found myself holding on tightly for the wrong reasons. The bird in the cage. I had to let go, and my now ex-wife in turn had to do the same for me. Seven years. It’s taken me seven years mom! Your love for me is still here in my heart. It is now the same with anyone I have ever loved. I’ve had to let them all go, and hope for the best for them. My heart remains open for those who have opened their hearts to me. You are always welcome. You have a home here, with me. And you will find yourself here deep in my heart, always. Always. This is the story about my mother who gave me a gift. That gift is a wheel that helps me chart my course and keeps me straight. The wheel I keep my hand on, the word freedom is written all over it. The lesson I learned was that part of the power of love is to let go, and to allow to be loved by someone. No matter what. No matter how. Both are so important to happiness and well-being. Till next time.
December 1, 2015 § Leave a comment
A clear head
Facing the death of my parents
Leaving the past behind
Caring for those who don’t care
Loving those who can’t love
Giving myself a chance