Tuesday, April 1, 2008

sweet chirping.

(These are NOT pictures of MY birds.)

I was writing to a friend who has had a lot of grief in her life lately and I told her a story about my mom.

It's a story that makes me get shivers and makes me smile at the same time- each and every time I think about it or tell it.

I have decide to share it on this very windy, Ohio Spring day, when the birds are struggling to hold tight to the branches outside my window. It's great to see the Robins back again!

This story isn't about Robins though. It's a story about death.


Before you decide not to read it- let me assure you it is very inspiring beyond the death part. None of us likes death, I know.

First, you need to know that I took care of my mom through about 7 years of chemotherapy (and many surgeries). We lived together, along with B and eventually our first born, E., too. Mom died in 1995 after a long brave struggle to beat the cancer that started in her breast and spread immediately to her lung and then eventually to her brain.

My mom always told me in the weeks before she died that she would fly to heaven on the wings of an every day bird. Not a fancy one.

She knew I loved birds as she did. She had grown up with pet Canaries.

I had grown up with many kinds of pet birds.

I have had Love Birds, Parakeets, Finches, Cockatiels, Parrots, Canaries.

I still keep pet birds.

Two weeks before mom died at home she started talking about wanting a Canary again. The visiting Hospice nurse knew someone that bred canaries and was able to get one for my mom.

Two days before Mom would die (of course we did not know that at the time), the Hospice nurse brought the bird to the house as promised. As she set the cage on a table next to Mom's bed, she apologized that it was "a rather ugly canary , as canary's go." I assure you her comment was not meant to be rude or unfeeling. It was true that it was not the prettiest canary I had ever seen, but I hoped the song the canary would bring would brighten my Mom's room and days. Canaries have a soothing song unlike many other breeds of birds that can be loud or obnoxious at times.

That canary sat in that cage for 2 days and not one song came out of it's beak...not even an ugly squawk!

Mom had made me promise her she would be allowed to die in her own room in her own house. When the time came, she died in her own bed, just like she had wanted it.  I was at her side holding her hand and stroking her bald head (where in her youth she had naturally wavy strawberry auburn hair). Also at her side were- my guy, our little E. and my brother M.
Her Canary nearby.

And the bird sang.

The bird sang the most beautiful song.

Sweet and happy.

The bird would not stop singing!


I know this sounds absolutely crazy, but...I swear I saw her spirit lift away from her body while the little Canary
sang a beautiful song from within it's ordinary looking body.

Until that very moment, I had forgotten about what she had said=

"a bird, not fancy" and "heaven".
(I was also with my B's mom, at a hospital in 1991, 
when she died of cancer a few months after we were married.
That was the first time I thought I saw a spirit lift away from a body.)

We gave the bird back to the breeder and thanked them sincerely. The bird needed to go sing for someone else that needed a beautiful song from "an ugly ordinary looking bird".


Mary said...

Oh, Amy, I am in tears... We had a white male (snowflake)a yellow mom (sunflower) and 6 babies. Yes they do sing beautiful. My Mother quoted poetry from her college days. Mother had a wonderful Hospice lady. A true
blessing. I think your story is beautiful. Somehow it makes the loss a little easier. Sounds like your Mom was a sweet,gentle soul. Hugs,Mary

Jillian said...

Wow, very touching. What a wonderful way to look at birds.

Kerry and Rachel said...

What a lovely story. It did give me shivers. Thank you for sharing.

Pam said...

Amy, what a beautiful story.

When my Dad was gravely ill, just a few days before he died, he kept telling me that he saw white birds, small ones, he said like hummingbirds. It's one of the things that really stuck in my mind.

Thank you for sharing the story of your mother.

Jennifer said...

This was beautiful; thank you so much for taking the time to share it, for trusting your amazing story out in the world.