It looks like we’ll have snow before nightfall, I can hear the wind blowing wildly through the trees far up on Wigton Mountain. I suppose technically, it’s not really a mountain at all, but I always loved to hear daddy call it that. Our farm certainly sits down in a valley and yes, there is a good sized expanse of steep tree covered hillside behind us, so I’m content to continue the tradition and convinced that he was close to correct anyway.
The wind is doing it’s best to blow the last of the leaves off the little birch tree that sits somewhat sheltered by the house. It’s a beautiful small tree and it still manages to hang onto it’s golden glory when all the other poor trees have lost their fall plumage. Snow glitters down, and all the little birds begin in earnest their search for the food that fills our feeders and will help sustain them through another frigid Ohio winter.
A Chickadee lands a few inches from the window and surveys the offerings there. He cocks a bright eye at me through the glass and at my greeting and gives his “Dee Dee Dee” call as he hops unafraid down the rustic buffet trying to choose which is the very best of such a bewildering array of bird goodness.
I like to think we are old friends this tiny morsel and I. When I head outside bundled in scarf and gloves to fill the feeders, all I have to do is call and within a few seconds, down he flies landing right above my head on a convenient branch, singing cheerily and determined to land on my fingers I’m sure of it.
That’s a goal of mine for this winter. To hand feed some of our these little feathered folk. Once while staying at a cabin in Wisconsin, I spent several afternoons out on the back deck, reading beside a small dish of tempting seeds. Amazingly, by the second day, the Chickadees and Nuthatches were not only landing and taking tidbits from the dish, but when I scooped up a palmful of kernels onto the palm of my hand, down flew a trim little black & white fellow and landing on my index finger, gave a chirp, chose a nice peanut and was off almost before my startled gaze could take in what had just happened. I can still remember the fragile grip of his surprisingly warm little feet on my finger, the absolute wonder of that moment and the trusting gaze of an almost weightless small creature.
I miss mother especially on days like this, how I wish I could pick up the phone and ring her to exclaim over the first snow, over the need to stock up on more birdseed. For her to tell me of the deer that had visited her that morning and how they had enjoyed the ears of corn that she faithfully left out for them the night before.
She can’t answer the phone in her room at the nursing home anymore. Dementia has taken away much of her ability to communicate, that despised disease has robbed my beautiful mother of nearly every link with her children, with everything she loved in this life.
The feeders outside her window hang ignored, she gazes dully at the tv screen or at the wall. Occasionally, when I visit she’ll look up and smile at me, try in vain to form even part of a sentence, The other day she almost managed to laugh at something I said, I watched her struggling painfully for the correct response, for the words that were simply no longer within her grasp.
I wake up in the night and pray for her, mourn for the life she lives in that place, I pray with tears that the Lord will comfort her, but that if it be his will, that he will take her home soon. Her mother and father are there in that bright place, that Heaven that holds the things she held most dear.
I believe God has room in that home for all the things his children have loved. He said that he was going to prepare a place for us, I love to think of what treasures he has there waiting for our astonished eyes to see when we walk into that land where there is no more night, no more tears, no more nursing homes or dementia or sadness, where the former things are passed away.
I think of mother and her arrival on that shore, I like to believe that our sweet old collie Lad will be standing there with plumed tail awag in joyful welcome. That her dog Rusty and the assortment of cats that found shelter at her door will all be waiting too for their beloved mistress. Her beautiful cat Snow, the gray kitten Joy, that she grieved the loss of for so many years. All happily there waiting to make her homecoming that much more joyful.
And so I watch the snow come down with my faithful Agatha at my feet and watch the golden leaves clinging still on the small birch tree, and I believe that the things I love and have lost are also being safely kept by Him who is Faithful. That even now, he does comfort and keep my poor mother and that it will be worth it all, when she gets home…