In Sickness and in Health

Battling cancer with love, medicine, and the Giver of both.

Feathers and Fluff Cont’d.

Well, it seems that I missed some key gifts very relevant to my fluff-ball mascots.

1. As Marie reminded me, my very dear and very wonderful man gave me a special gift during my transplant.  I have to disagree, Marie… I was not a beautiful bride at the time, at least outwardly, which makes my husband even nobler.  I was a hairless, puffy, drugged up woman.  He’s my hero for loving me through all that!!

Here it is — my precious bird cage:











You may remember me talking about this picture holder.  Its the one given to me in my very spacy week in the hospital.  The one that a few days later had me stumped as to who gave it.  That one.  It is now hanging in my kitchen and is filled with all our nieces and nephews, minus one. 😦  Josh and April’s Jackson is not present.  But believe me, he’s as cute as they come.

2. A very special gift from my favorite sister.







This little guy with his important message sits in my living room.  He’s been there ever since I received him.  Shari gave this to me during my first rounds of treatment if I remember right.

These two gifts were given even before birds held special significance to me.  Funny how retroactive God can be sometimes.

This makes me think I’m probably missing some other very important gift, so if you are the giver, please enlighten me.


Feathers and Fluff

I’d like to think it’s pretty common for God to give a ‘mascot’ (for lack of a better word) to someone in a time of sickness or difficulty.  A symbol.  Something physical that holds special significance.  For a friend of mine, it is sunshine.  For me, it is birds.

It all started about a year ago, several months after my transplant.  God began vying for my attention through those amazing little puff-balls.

I was wrestling that big beast called anxiety…yet again.  It was blowing it’s foul breath all over me.  I was weak and wasn’t winning too well.  Until… I looked outside and saw a flock of sparrows congregating outside my kitchen window.  They were feeding in the grass.

My thoughts went something like this:


feeding on whatever they can find.

God is taking care of them like He promised.

YES, God, I get it!

Except it wasn’t a frustrated ‘I get it!’  It was a dawning, a realization, a ‘light-bulb’ moment.  “I GET IT!”  And it took only a nano-second to ‘get.’

One of those birds is a fraction of my own value!  But You feed them???  You know when they plummet from the sky on their last flight???

In that brief moment the message was so crystal clear that my beastly enemy had no choice but to grovel at my feet.  No pinning necessary.

More than once that image has been my weapon in the months that have followed.


Fast forward to this spring…

I have a hanging geranium on my front porch.  Two wrens decided it was an ideal spot for their nest.  So with much delight we watched the process.  They really did a phenomenal job, bringing grasses and twigs and all sorts of items until they had a secure little home.  Soon there were eggs and then came the ugly hairless stage…creatures always straining their beaks for a tasty worm.  I kept my plant watered during this time and it seemed not to disturb them too much.  From time to time, we would peek in to see how everything was getting along.

About a week ago, I was watering.  As I peaked in, low and behold, a black beady eye was staring back at me.  This little guy had hair!  And not just baby fuzz but actual feathers.  He watched me warily.  As I moved around to water the back of the plant, I began to express to the Lord how much I’d really like to see these creatures fly whenever the time comes.  I declare that message was only half-way to heaven before I heard a fluttering and was startled to see Junior exiting the nest.  He fluttered down to the grass and though I thought it quite graceful for a first flight, I was worried.  I wasn’t at all sure he was ready for this and I feared I had rushed him.

The mother was nowhere in sight…probably on vacation.  So, I stood back in awe as he wibbled and wobbled his way over to the concrete.  He had a very nimble little hop once he reached a hard surface, but talk about toothpick legs.  Actually ‘half a toothpick’ legs.

I debated settling him back in his nest, when mom finally showed up.  She was ?@*&#^%!  I have to use that word ’cause I can’t read bird brains.  I chose to believe she was overjoyed to see her young’un finally leave the nest.  But I declare, she threw a curse or two at me.

About this time, I noticed the two siblings had emerged from the nest and were finding footholds on the plant and the rim of the basket.  Incessant chirping ensued.  The babies, caught up in the excitement and terror of the moment.  And the mother, beside herself with what I’m sure is the biggest day of the year for her.  She had a particular chirp directed at them.  To my pea brain interpretation, it was an encouraging instruction to let go and FLY!!  At one point she even flew up to the nest and down to the ground to show them how simple flying was.  yeah right.  It was amazing to see her focused training.  Every now and then, a scold flew out of her beak if I so much as moved.  Believe me, I know what her scolding sounds like.  I had many opportunities to receive it throughout the prior weeks when I got too close to her brood.  So by now it was inscribed in my memory.  I’m sure I was a nuisance at this moment simply by watching, but I wasn’t going to miss this answer to prayer…not for anything.

As soon as each baby mustered it’s courage and found it’s wings (how cliche-ishly pun-ny) the mother herded them under our car.  Yeah, mighty safe place, Mom!  But she didn’t keep them there.  She exited out the other side and led them to a great big tree that happens to be right in front of the garage.  She then flew up to one of the lower branches, continuing her encouraging chirp.  This branch was maybe 10 feet off the ground.  I wondered how this was going to work.  The babies started to slowly climb the tree.  A little fluttering got them up a few inches where they clung to the bark with those ‘half a toothpick’ legs.  They repeated this until they reached the branch and received a rewarding bite or two from mom and dad. (he showed up late!  Musta been on an even longer vacation)  Sorry to say, Junior #3 had a rough go of it.  He was almost to the branch when for some unknown reason, he decided the garage roof was a reasonable destination.  He made it to the edge and hung on for dear life, but unfortunately he didn’t have a secure hold and he tumbled to the ground only feet away from me.  On his way down, he banged the side of the wall but somehow he managed to land right side up.  Or if not, he was on his feet in a second, flustered and trying to make sense of what just happened.  I could see his little chest fluttering.  Tough little guy.  He was soon hopping back to the base of the tree to attempt a second round of grueling climbing.  And finally, he made it.

I have not seen them since.  I hope and pray they are okay and enjoying their freedom.

I’m not going to end this with a cute little moral or application.  But somehow I believe all this has something to do with His ‘symbol’ to me.

Do you have a ‘mascot?’