We lost another one this week. That makes two in the last eight days. First, Bob, then Charmaine. Elderly, frail friends of Mother’s.
People she knew for nearly forty years from church. People, who were hardy, still working with busy productive lives when she and Daddy first met them. People, whose lives morphed and changed into retirement, followed by the death of spouses and the total rearrangement of how they lived; people, who once self-reliant, at the end, relied upon others.
Mother hasn’t been feeling well, so I told her the news carefully. She seemed to take it in stride as part of the everyday markers of her elderly life. After all, Daddy’s gone too, and he was her mainstay.
Charmaine and Jim retired and moved back to the mid-West to be near their kids. Maybe ten years ago? Then Jim got sick and died and Charmaine’s daughter was around to do the caring. Now Charmaine’s gone.
Bob nursed his ailing wife while he worked full time and then she died. Mother says he was never the same after those exhausting years. Is that why Alzheimer’s took over his capable brain? In the end his daughters had lie to him to get him to leave the house so that they could get him care. Bob’s gone now, too.
A flurry of birds in the backyard catches my eye as sparrows dart, flutter, and settle on the grass and the green is painted into a polka dot green blanket with hopping browns and grays. Today’s sunshine reveals a glitter in the multi-layered hues of their feathers.
Squawk! A blackbird clutched to a swaying high wire interrupts and the sparrows take chirping flight up into the bare oak branches. Low to the ground, along the fence perimeter, there’s black fur that moves stealthily. Feral cat. Could be that squawk was a warning, right?
So, those ended elderly lives? Makes one think; ponder; if you get my drift. The shortness of their lives doesn’t hold a candle to the song bird, the Cedar Waxwing, trilling on the bare Apricot branches. Those dudes only live two or three years. That’s short, my friend. Or it is when compared to Mother’s eighty-plus-year-old friends that just sang their last, breathed their last. Well, you get the point.
But, does it seem short to the Cedar Waxwing, or does it seem normal? They’re born, they’re fed, they learn to eat and to find their own food and water; their instinct keeps them moving ahead, they make music, they make baby birds, they feed them and push them from the nest. They make more music. They die.
It’s all perspective. The light we’re seeing from the stars, by the time it gets to us, those stars have died. The music of Chopin or Pachelbel, it’s ours because they lived and created, but they’re done now too. Even so, they left something behind. So do the stars, so do the Cedar Waxwings. Their beauty and their songs are captured and saved on YouTube on in some documentary for us to enjoy.
Here’s what keeps crawling around the edges of my mind, “Look at the birds of the sky: They don’t sow or reap or gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Aren’t you worth more than they?” That was Matthew, a Jesus follower, noting down his observations of the cycle of the birds in the skies above him over 2,000 years ago in Palestine.
Matthew’s been gone a long time, but he caught the truth and left a record of it for us. It’s life. The value of life. The preciousness of life. Your life. My life. The bird’s life. Ok, I’ll admit it, as much as I don’t like feral cats, the feral cat’s life, as well. Life. We see it replicated from one bird to another; one cat to another, one human to another, but it’s a gift. Matthew said it was a God given gift. It is.
I see that. I feel it inside. I’m aware life is a gift and not something I can make or bring into being. Nor can I control how long life lasts. Oh, I suppose I could throw in the towel to my life’s fight and find some way to end it. The problem is that’s only the life that exists in this earthly world; the one we can see and touch. But, it’s not the soul. There’s no ending to the soul. The soul comes from God and he controls its destiny. I need to remember to hold it in an open hand, because I can’t control it. Just like I can’t keep that Cedar Waxwing living on forever nor can I predict how long before Mother loses life. Her life and soul came from God and back to God she will go. I will go. You will go. Take comfort. God loves you and the soul he gave you. Meanwhile, fly high and sing your song.