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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Broken wings, lost feathers

“Oh my God.  Poor bird!” I exclaimed as I saw a bird bounce off the windshield of the car heading toward me. I was driving to work that morning and had the misfortune of witnessing what, to me, was a quite disturbing scene. I vividly remember seeing multiple feathers being blown off the bird at the time of the violent impact. 
But amazingly, the bird had rolled off the windshield after the impact, leaving its flurry of feathers floating gracefully to the highway pavement, and continued flying. I was astonished. I saw it heading off toward a grassy field beside the road. The bird was struggling, flying in a very unbalanced way, but with evident tenacity to safely land. I turned my head back to the highway, and continued driving, with the image of the bird etched in my mind.  

Will it survive? Will its broken wing or wings heal? Will its lost feathers grow back?  

A few months later I received an unexpected phone call. The news was bad. Someone needed my help. I was astonished. I felt close to collapse. I had to make decisions, but couldn’t focus. I closed my office door, sat on my chair and breathed deeply. And I said a prayer, asking God for guidance. 
The image of the unfortunate bird came to my mind, even though several months had passed since that incident. Like the bird, I was in pain. Emotional pain. I felt as though my wings were broken, or worse, ripped apart. With no feathers left.  

But like the bird, I knew I had to do something right away. I had to continue moving and heading off to where I could find relief. A place with green pastures. Then I switched my course of thoughts with a more determined state of mind. I realized I still had my wings. I regained my strength, and made quick decisions. Successfully.  

Several weeks later, I found myself looking back in retrospect, thankful that everything was resolved. And life went back to normal.  

A recent event involving a nursing home resident made me think of the unfortunate bird again. Mrs. Williams’s niece came from out of town to visit. A rather unusual visit. Mrs. Williams’s sister had just died, and her niece came to bear the bad news. Mrs. Williams is a lady in her 90’s, with advanced dementia, and in a very declined condition. I was present when Mrs. Williams and the niece met. As a social worker, I like to be present when my residents receive bad news, in case of any crisis.  

“Aunt, I am Gloria, your niece, do you remember me?”  

Mrs. Williams perked up, and seemed to recognize her niece, despite her poor memory.  Hesitating, the niece told her about her sister’s death. Mrs. Williams had remained still for several seconds, then she opened her eyes widely.  

The impact against the windshield, I thought, recalling the bird incident, the shock and the realization of instant pain. 

Mrs. Williams started crying.  A few minutes later, she fell silent. She let her head lean forward, closed her eyes, and then looked as if she went to sleep. Due to her dementia it was not unusual for Mrs. Williams to look sleepy or lethargic.  

“Aunt, aunt,” the niece called quietly. Mrs. Williams tilted her head up toward her niece and opened her eyes. They shared a smile.  

“Aunt, are you okay? 

 “I’m fine,” Mrs. Williams answered. She started talking about the plants in the sunroom. The niece and I realized that Mrs. Williams had completely forgotten about the recent sad news. In less than five minutes.  

The niece didn’t broach the subject again. She had accomplished her mission of telling her aunt about her sister’s death. A painful moment for Mrs. Williams and her niece. Fortunately, a very brief moment for Mrs. Williams, who now continues her routine. And life went back to normal.  

Her wings were healed. Her feathers grew back, I mused.  

All within five minutes. 


Ann Best said...

Hi, Doris. This is a beautifully written and touching story. It's stunning how you relate the image of the bird on the windshield to Mrs. Williams and her niece.

In referring to what you said on my latest post, I want to tell you that you are indeed a writer. And it's evident how meticulously you prepare your blog posts, and how you really do write wonderful "stories." This is so beautiful; so human.

I hope you have a good week. Hugs back from me and Jen!

Arlee Bird said...

I think we have to have considerable resillience to survive very long in this world. I feel like I've have a pretty sweet and charmed life over all, but I know I've have much loss and heartbreak that stays with me. I can't dwell on it or life will either stand still or I will become a nuisance to those around me. We have to rely on our inner strength and whatever defense mechanisms we need to develop in order to keep flying the course. I like your story of the bird. And what a sweet dear lady.

Tossing It Out

Mariette VandenMunckhof-Vedder said...

Dearest Delores,

Yes, it hurts to see anything in nature getting hurt... it only reminds us of how fragile life is. You encounter that daily in your work and than in your social life and family as well. Emotional pain, yes indeed but we need to grow our wings; our angel-wings. Angel wings will let us soar high above the pain filled little world of which we are part of for such a brief moment...

Lots of love from Georgia - with sunshine!


Padraic Murray said...

Hi Doris, thanks for your story. My experience of meeting a sea gull while driving on the motorway was less uplifting and much more expensive for both of us. Separately my wife and I are at that time in our lives when we are dealing with loved ones in their nineties and we often wonder how much of the truth should they get and how much they can deal with. Never easy! Thanks again.

Carol Kilgore said...

I don't know how you do what you do. Kudos.

NENSA MOON said...

Hi Doris,
this is such a touching story... yeah..everything which hurt when appear in front of us will make us sad or even painful...
But for Mrs. William who got dementia, he could forget all pain and sadness even only in 5 minutes...

Thanks for the story, Doris!
I really enjoy reading it.
Have a wonderful week ahead!


Anonymous said...

I really like how you write your posts in story form. And this story is very touching. Thanks for sharing! :D

Anonymous said...

I really like how you write your posts in story form. And this story is very touching. Thanks for sharing! :D

MTJ said...

Hi Doris,

As I read this post, I kept hearing the word resilience echo in my mind. I'm learning that when problems or concerns rise up around me, I need to rely on the grace of God to keep me resilient as I'm being stretched to face the challenges in my life.

When you spoke of the bird "struggling" yet having the "tenacity to safely land", I think of Paul's words, "I press on".

We may in fact lose feathers along our flight, we may even break a wing, but our Lord give us grace to fly safely to Him.

Blessings and peace.


Terri Tiffany said...

Your writing is getting stronger and stronger. I love how you started this and how you applied it to several situations. It is very vivid and makes me think about how I react to situations like that around me:)

Sam Liu said...

This is so moving and very inspirational, Doris. You found such meaning in that bird and in the beauty of nature, you had a strong spirit that allowed you to carry on. You're tenacity is admirable.

Claus said...

Isn't it amazing how a living and breathing being fights for survival? Each in their own way, all of God's creatures are set to endure a moment, and keep on going. Your story made me think of my neighbor. She had Alzheimer's, and used to forgot everything within minutes. But when had moments of lucidity, a tear always came out of her eye. it made me cry too. I admire you, Doris, for the continuos strength in your work, and the kind heart you definitely have towards those in need. Dios te bendiga.
un feliz día!!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Isn't it amazing what we learn from the simplest and most random occurances?

DEZMOND said...

I've just read an article in newspapers yesterday about the number of little birds who die when they crash into huge modern glass skyscrapers in modern cities. The number is shockingly huge and quite disturbing, especially since I never even thought about building being dangerous to birds in that way.
Now they've invented some special signaling lines which are visible to birds and which would help them turn away before they crash into a glass wall.

MTeacress said...

What an interesting story, and I agree with Ann - you seem like a writer. I would enjoy reading an entire book with stories like these.

Thanks again for stopping by my blog! :)

Patricia Stoltey said...

The story about Mrs. Williams is so poignant. It brings back memories of my paternal grandmother who had a couple of years of hazy existence interspersed with wonderful clear moments. It's hard to watch those we love "go away," even though they're still very much alive.


डा0 हेमंत कुमार ♠ Dr Hemant Kumar said...

Nice blog with nice thoughts--.

Bica said...

I love your analogy. I knew someone with Alzheimer's, and my sister was present when he had a lucid moment. In that moment, he realized that he was in a nursing home, saw the sign representing the unit he was in, and, for a brief moment, was overwhelmed with grief. At that point, my sister was only too happy to see him retreat,once again, back to the world where he had existed for the last couple of years. It was a blessing that his lucidity was fleeting.

Marguerite said...

Hi Delores, It's so nice to meet you! This was a very touching and inspiring post. Thanks so much for visiting my blog and for following!

http://www.samposey.com/ said...

You have a very nice blog. My step daughter is getting her Masters in social working, but I've watched my generation of social worker majors burn out and leave the field. It's their big hearts. It gets them every time. The world would be a lesser place without people willing to answer the call though. So, thank you.

Amrita said...

Dear Doris, Greetings from India.

I loved this beautiful post.
I shall follow your blog.

I feel like that bird too at times.

joanna said...

Dear Doris:

Thank you for visiting my blog and becoming a follower, I as well became a follower of yours.

Interesting read, I myself find it truly amazing when I stand in my center, and let go of the fear the anxiety, and let go and pray for the right guidance and allow it to come. It always answers...adored your analogy of the bird, for birds throughout man's history have also been messengers, if we listen and you did so well.

Great story.


Nicole said...

Hi Doris :) Just popped over from the BBQ, nice to meet you! Our grandad is actually like that at the moment, strange and frustrating ;p


Just Be Real said...

Doris, this has touched me. I have two birds of my own and the analogy you shared it right on spot. Beautifully written. Blessings.

Tina said...

Nice analogies here. And great words of wisdom. I enjoyed this piece! And thanks for visiting at Life is Good. I appreciate your kind comment.

Nikki (Sarah) said...

this is written so amazing...I will remember that image of the bird hitting the windshield...you are very caring and kind.

Brian Miller said...

glad you dropped in today...interesting how that one instances has carried forward to touch many in your life...so much we can learn from each of these..and they are not random...i will remember this one as well...


C'est une très belle histoire. Elle est très touchante.En Bretagne, nous appelons ces petits évènements qui précèdent des accidents majeurs de la vie, des intersignes. Il y a beaucoup de superstitions dans cette façon d'interpréter les choses mais bien est obligé de dire qu'ils se révèlent souvent être vrai. Faut-il en rapprocher le cause à effet ? A chacun de penser comme il veut;