A week ago Sunday, as I was sitting in my dad's room at the nursing home, passing some of his last hours with him, I was watching some birds coming and going from a bird house on a pole outside his window, nest building, I suppose. The sun would catch the iridescent blue on the wings or their tale feathers, and initially, because of the blue, I thought they were bluebirds. I should have known they were not, because they weren't really that bright blue, but bluebirds, even here in the country, are a fairly rare sight. I don't know when the last time I actually saw one was, but I know it's been years. My brother told me they were house swallows when I asked. I was disappointed that they weren't bluebirds, but not really very surprised. Their tail feathers were too pointy, really, and the blue, more of a metallic black-blue. Tuesday, after my father had passed away, and I was on my way home from my brother's house late in the afternoon, I was driving along the Back River Road and a bluebird flew across the road in front of me. An honest-to-goodness bluebird, this time, and there was NO mistaking it. It was smaller, rounder, red chested, very compact, and a stunningly- blue color. It made me laugh out loud to think I had actually mistaken the swallows for bluebirds earlier that week. Once I saw this one, there was no mistake.
So, I'm not sure if I saw it because bluebirds were on my mind? Sometimes that happens. You don't see things unless you have opened yourself to the possibility of them, true enough. But it's hard to think I would have missed other opportunities to see and appreciate that beautiful flash of bright, bright, blue just because I wasn't thinking about them. That blue, like the red of a cardinal, and the yellow of a goldfinch in summer, is an in-your-face notice to sit up and pay attention, and, give thanks.Hard to miss, even on the worst or most distracted of days. No, rather, I think that maybe because I had been bird-watching while my dad spent his last few hours on earth, thinking that there were bluebirds outside his window for a time even though they weren't, perhaps God sent me that one, lone bluebird on that day out of all others, to let me know that my dad has not only taken flight, but is also something to be remembered connected to beauty as well. Another "omen," of sorts, even though I don't believe in omens. Maybe there is simply a better word for omen that I DO believe in? That seems logical.
All I know is, I find comfort in thinking of my mom when I see a cardinal, and try to remain vigilantly thankful for those brilliant flashes of red that didn't have to be, and now, if and when I am lucky enough to see another bluebird or two, I will also think of my dad, thankful for the beauty his life brought to mine, and thankful that God decided to give us not only the red, but that blue as well. I changed my picture on facebook this week to a bluebird, in honor and memory of my dad, and the beautiful things in my life, and a friend wrote this on my wall this morning:
"Love the blue bird taking flight, soaring above it all. Free from the confines of earth that bind us. Free to pursue higher, deeper, richer things. Quietly and gracefully joining the heavenly skies. He wings
are spread as if to wash those of us below with a peace that passes all understanding. Simply breathe!