When we moved into our first home in 2001, our realtor bought us a bird feeder. I had never fed wild birds before but soon after, I found a perfect spot to hang it right outside of our dining room window. At first a few sparrows would show up, but if they saw any movement at all on the other side of the window they would dart away. I was told that they just needed to get used to us. The sparrows would take a few days to empty the feeder and I slowly became consistent in making sure the feeder was filled.
It didn’t take long for all of the birds in the vicinity to find out where the grub was located. I started to fill the feeder daily and there were times in the winter when they would empty the feeder in about an hour! Over the years our checklist of sighted birds has grown. The number of finches and doves has grown each year. An american goldfinch passes through and so do red winged blackbirds. We really enjoy the babies in the spring.
Feeding the birds is costly, especially when they gobble it up, and it can also be messy and a hassle. The benefits outweigh the work. My two sons were disabled and over the years it became more difficult to leave the house. We learned to find pleasure in the simple things – watching the birds. We have seen the finch population increase with each passing year and have also seen more doves. Chickadees frequent our feeder as well and they are the friendliest.
The summer before my oldest son, Christian, passed away, we had an abundance of birds. He loved grackles and we had an abundance of them feasting and causing mayhem in the backyard. The mourning dove population exploded with most of them perching on the power line in the alley. We also have Eurasian collared doves. Most of the time less than 10 will be here enjoying the safflower seed off of the sidewalk. In the later part of summer, I looked out back and to my astonishment, there were 20 of them back there!
The winter after my son passed away was the darkest, coldest winter we had ever experienced. The sparrows and finches gave us comfort when they were brave enough to visit the feeder and risk being snatched up by the hawk that lurked in my yard. Today they cannot eat the food fast enough because the babies are very demanding. It is such a joy to watch the parent finches watch over and feed their babies at my feeders. My son Andrew and I believe that Christian is sending us birds to comfort us and to let us know that he is okay. Over the last couple of days, we have had 2 doves perch on the lift right outside the dining room window and stare at us.
If you have a disabled parent or family member who is unable to leave the home frequently, a bird feeder is an excellent idea. It is an easy, joyful form of entertainment and is something we will always enjoy and find comfort in.
Laundry. Something that never goes away. Just when we think we are all caught up, in the blink of an eye it’s “five feet high and rising”. Whether it’s something we do once a week or once a day, we usually do not look forward to it.
During Christian’s last year his care took more time and so did the laundry. It was something I had the hardest time keeping up with. I had a system worked out but as caregiving demands grew, time to do laundry became scarce. When I folded the boys’ clothes, I always had 6 pairs of pants, 6 shirts, etc. The number of any item of the boys that I folded was always an even set number. When Christian passed away last October, one of the hardest things for me to do, along with setting the table and setting out pills, was laundry. The reasons, of course, were completely different. For one thing, it was easier and took less time because there was less clothes. What was once even and in sets of 6 became odd and in sets of 3. This made me feel guilty. For another, I missed folding his clothes: His Jeff Gordon t-shirt which he wore every race day, his Call of Duty shirt which I always liked the feel of and I thought looked great on him and all of his Star Wars shirts. Christian’s Star Wars shirts defined what he was most passionate about, which defined him.
Today when I folded the darks, I had 3 shirts and 3 pairs of pants. I began to feel sad but felt a little better when I looked up at Christian’s Samus (from Super Metroid) poster that I hung up above the folding table. I realized that I was thankful that I still had Drew’s and Dave’s clothes to launder and as long as I am washing them and folding them, it means they are still in my life. Maybe laundry wouldn’t be such a chore if we viewed it as an act of love.
Yesterday I decided to go on a walk for the first time in almost 2 years. I used to walk often before my sons started needing more help with their care. I read in several places that exercise is helpful when we are grieving. I ignored the urge to go walk a few times since Christian passed away but I wasn’t able to ignore it this time. I completed the book series we read together, the Mortal Instruments and Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare (blog post on that coming later), so I no longer had an excuse. I settled on Gibson Park. At first I didn’t want to because that is the last place I went with Christian during his last week with us.
I couldn’t figure out why Christian kept asking me to stay by his side, but it all makes sense now. As weak as his arms were he was still able to feed one of the geese.
At first, I looked around the park and everything looked exactly how I felt, hollow and sad. The Chinook winds have been blowing for a few days so most of the snow has melted, revealing the trampled, soggy grass underneath. My heart began to lift when I noticed some mallard ducks right along the walking path. The geese were gathered around people who were feeding them. As I rounded the second bend on my lap around the park I heard chickadees – “chick a dee dee dee dee”. If you have ever heard them then you know exactly how cheery they sound and how uplifting it is to hear their call. I started snapping shots on my iPhone. Someone did a wonderful job carving this turtle out of a tree trunk. I also noticed the lamps
that had been put up since I had last walked at Gibson Park. I started to see beauty among the ashes of the winter storms we experienced over the last couple of months.
A little ways further and a friendly squirrel ran up to me and started scampering around me in circles. He looked at me like he was expecting a peanut. I looked around and noticed the little fellas were running and playing all over the park.
As my walk came to a close and my car came into view, I started feeling lighter. I knew that to do the things that bring me joy and peace are the things that honor Christian. I plan on continuing my walks and I hope to encounter more critters that I can take photos of and share with you all!