Mothers Come in Many Forms





In the winter of 1985 we purchased something that kinda, almost, sorta resembled a house. It was what you would call a real handy man special.  All the windows were broken, it had three colors of shingles, we fell through the floor in the hall way, the living room was decorated by a fuse box and heater, and since there was three feet of snow on the ground, we had no idea what the yard looked like.  Yet, we fell in love with the place and could just see its potential.   After all, John is a carpenter and what did we have to loose - besides our marriage?


As soon as the closing was signed, sealed, and delivered we went to work.  We had to shovel the snow to get to the door.  Once inside we started tearing down the drywall. I was in the front of the house working on what would be our daughter's room, when I let out a scream.  Those who came running to my aid found me on top of the ladder, for there in the wall was a snake hibernating.  Since there was no mention of snakes being part of the contract at the closing or within the legal description of the house, I felt it was a trespasser and that a hangin' was in order.  Little did I know that snake would be the first of the many critters we would have on the old homestead.


A couple of weeks later we started working on an addition on the back of the house that would be a bedroom for the boys.  We were ripping off the siding when we got to the last piece. We saw a nest at the bottom of the wall of the house. Inside of it was the skeleton of three baby birds.  We then noticed there was a hole at top of that piece of siding. We thought maybe the mama bird used her beak to make a resting place for the nest giving it added protection for her babies.  But sadly, the nest had fallen behind the siding and was stuck in between it and the wall of the house. I envisioned her flying around, hearing the cries of her babies, and not being able to do anything for them. I felt sadness for her.


By spring we finished the remodeling and we were ready to move into our new home.  One morning the boys were awaken at 5:00 by a beautiful red bird flying into the window of their bedroom.  It would fly into the window and back to a tree, into the window and back to the same tree, several times. At first this was cute but, after the second week it wasn't anymore. It was annoying for the banging noise woke up everyone.


We thought our bird was seeing its reflection in the window thinking it was another bird. John fixed a rod across the window for the bird, but it flew into the window next to it.  It would fly from the same tree to the window over and over again. It then dawned on us that this might be the mama bird of the babies we had found.  The room addition now covered up the wall where her babies once nested. She was trying to get to them, but the addition was stopping her.  We knew this to be true, for she continued every spring for years to come. She became part of our family, even at five in the morning.


I didn't realize how much this mama bird and I would have in common until July 11, 1993. We were taking our first born, our only daughter, Destini off to school in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.  It was 575 miles from our home which was a nine-hour drive.  After making several trips up and down five flights of stairs, to unload all of her belongings we had to say our goodbyes.  As John and I were leaving, tears were streaming down my face.  I wanted to run back to her, but I couldn't.  I knew I had to leave her.  The drive home was an eternity especially since I wanted to get home in case Destini needed to call me.


We arrived home around 9:00 that evening. No message on the machine.  I found myself drawn to her room and doing something I said I would never do. I started cleaning her room.  I was sorting through her school trophies, 4-H ribbons, pictures of graduation, prom, and her friends.  I needed to feel her presence.  I needed to hold her.  I finished cleaning and reminiscing until about midnight and then headed off to bed before our five o'clock alarm.


The alarm went off as it did every morning and I found myself again drawn to Destini's room. I actually wanted something to be messed up, but everything was still in order. Just then that mama bird flew to the north window of Destini's room. Our eyes met for a second.  She then flew to the east window.  Our eyes again met. I don't know why, but I felt she wanted me to follow her to the back of the house.  As I was walking out onto the deck, which was next to the boy's bedroom, she flew by with something hanging out of her beak.  She rested in the tree that was home to her every spring and summer.  While in the tree she took great effort to secure what she was holding.  When her task was completed she turned and looked at me for a few minutes and then flew away.


I went over to see what she had so carefully placed in the tree. I pulled out two pieces of material that were about 1-inch-thick and 36 inches long. What on earth could two stings mean? My heart ached as I recalled the saying about "cutting the apron strings."  Perhaps this was her way, as one mother to another, saying it was time for both of us to let go of our babies. That mama bird never returned.



Proverbs 22:6 - "Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it."


Proverbs 1:8 -- "Listen, my son, to your father's instruction and do not forsake your mother's teaching."

"There are two things we can give our children. Roots to grow and wings to fly."


"One does not have to give birth to be a mother. When a woman cares for others, she is a mother."


©Melinda Sutherland 5/1/06 PIC.JPG


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