Being a mother bird must be terrifying. First, she has to collect lots of nesting materials, one piece at a time. Twigs are collected to give shape to the nest. Softer materials are then added to give the nest comfort. Sometimes a bird will collect leaves or feathers and mix it with their own saliva to bind it together. I have seen birds also collect bits of moss or even fur. One time our dog was napping in some grass, and I noticed a bird repeatedly flying within a dangerous distance for the purpose of collecting molted fur from our pet. Of course this gave the bird a very comfy nest lining indeed.
The bird has to choose the location of its nest wisely. If it is too precarious, it risks being blown to the ground or to smithereens during a heavy wind. Some nests are very high up in the air. This is what amazes me for the mother bird must realize it is from this high level that she has to coerce her little ones to take a death-defying leap to learn how to fly.
Once Mother Bird has exhausted herself building the nest, she must lay the eggs then sit on them until they hatch. She must stay there to protect them and keep them warm denying herself food unless her mate feeds her. If she were to move, a predatory bird or animal could eat the eggs or push them out of the nest.
I have become like a mother bird to my own mother, taking a reverse in roles, especially since her heart attack. It is hard to see her become more frail and dependent on others for her care. I have begun to oversee her doctor visits, medications and care. She has not always been so cooperative. She always has been a very self-sufficient person. I don’t want to take this away from her and am doing everything I can to help her get back to a fairly normal, independent life again. However, like Mother Bird, I must coax her slowly and gently until she is stronger and can fly again.
I have revisited an important lesson in the last few weeks. I have been having difficulty letting go again.
My mother had a heart attack two weeks ago. She had been to a doctor’s appointment that morning. She wanted to go alone but something told me to go with her. I saw her walking up the sidewalk to the front entrance as I pulled in the parking lot. It was good for me to be there to be an extra set of ears for her as she has become hard of hearing. It gives me peace of mind also to converse with the doctor myself concerning my mother’s health concerns.
Lately, her blood pressure has been elevated and when they tested her blood, she was anemic. The doctor prescribed an iron supplement which we were going to fill after getting a quick-lunch. We went to a local Panera Bread since Mom likes their soup. She was feeling fine until we sat down. Suddenly she started feeling dizzy and put her head down. She started going in and out of consciousness. Her left arm started shaking. I tried talking to her. She told me she needed to use the restroom then wanted to go home. I walked with her to the restroom. As soon as she got to the bathroom stall, her legs buckled and she began falling. Fortunately, I was there to catch her and break her fall. I laid her head down on my purse so that she did not hit her head on the floor. This was the first miracle. The second miracle was that I had passed two police officers at a table just outside the bathroom. I grabbed them and had them call “911.” The paramedics came within minutes. They took her to the hospital. I phoned my husband and met him at the emergency room. The EMT’s met me at the door and told me my mother had a heart attack. They were working on her. We waited for about an hour to find out the prognosis.
The time in the waiting room seemed like an eternity. Some candy-stripers offered us some snacks to eat that had been provided by a church. I looked down and noticed that the bag of chips I had chosen had a scripture verse taped to the outside. I marveled at how God must use this wonderful ministry to provide comfort to distraught family members in the hospital waiting room.
As I nervously sat with my husband, I noticed a lady sitting alone across the aisle from us. I struck up a conversation to try to console her as well as myself. Her husband was having heart surgery. He was only 49. She said he had a condition known as “the widow-maker.” As worried as I was about my mother, I wanted to offer a prayer for this woman. I asked her if I could pray for her and she was happy to oblige. Somehow, praying for someone else in the midst of my own crisis made me feel better.
Finally, after an excruciating wait, the doctor came out to talk to us. He took us into a room and showed us an image of my mother’s heart. He said he had put a stent into an artery that was 99% blocked and that she should recover well but would need to stay in the hospital at least 3 days. We were told in the ICU that she was very lucky! She still has some challenges to overcome.
I have been caring more for my mother as she has gotten older. I try to convince her to do things to take care of herself as she gets stubborn sometimes. She almost refused treatment in the emergency room. If my husband had not been there to coerce her, she might not have signed over to let them work on her. Try as I might, I have to keep giving her back to God. He has given her back to me this time. For that I am grateful.
I find myself revisiting the old lesson that God keeps trying to teach me to let go. As I left the hospital during one of my visits when I struggled convincing her that she must stay a few more days and abide by the doctors’ directives, I felt the Lord saying to me “Let little birds fly.”
Whenever faced with a difficult season of life, it is good to start planning ahead for something in the future as a way of relief or light at the end of a tunnel. Whether it be a trip, an outing or some fun activity, it is a way to help us muddle through whatever situation we currently find ourselves.
Gardening has been a way that I have found hope for the future, especially during particularly dry spells. There is something exciting about seeing signs of life stirring in a dormant winter garden. New green shoots that protrude through the ground from crocus bulbs, Lenten roses or cheery yellow blossoms on forsythia bushes are often the first signs of spring that I spy in my garden during late January or February on warm winter days. It is always uplifting to my weary soul.
This year, I am more eager than usual to find the ever-comforting signs of spring to offer me hope for my current winter doldrums. I especially need a little boost of encouragement from my plant friends since my mother’s recent heart attack and health challenges.