Friday, May 27, 2011

Mean People Are for the Birds

Since my last post ended up being kind of verbose (hey, I got a lot to say), I thought I'd make sure this one was a little lighter.  A little shorter, a little less whiny.  I start putting up epic posts and neither of us (you and me, we're a team) will keep following along.  That was the plan.  But the best-laid plans of mice and men go oft awry, and I never seem to come up with a really great plan, let alone the best.  Maybe tomorrow we'll have Spring Lite.  Maybe tomorrow my disposition will be sunny.  Maybe tomorrow I'll pass along a good joke or share my favorite cookie recipe.  But not today.  Today my heart is broken.

I went to see my dad today.  I don't go see him enough.  I miss my dad when I don't at least hear his voice on the phone a few times a week.  I've been less than stellar my whole adult life at stopping in to visit or picking up the phone to call anyone.  Even less stellar lately.  I shouldn't need a reason to go see my dad, but I had one anyway.  I found a little sink a while back for his kitchenette area he'd started in his basement but I hadn't put it in yet.  So under the guise of plumbing, I headed north to Kalama.

It was good to see my dad.  Nice to have his company, even under the pretense of plumbing.  I only sprayed myself in the face once hooking up the water lines.  We only had to make one trip to the hardware store down the hill.  We had lunch.  Chatted.  When it was time for me to head home, he walked me to my car, and I saw a peanut shell in his driveway.  So I asked about his birds. 

The birds I asked about, my dad's birds, are a family of jays he feeds from his deck.  It's not an occasional thing.  He feeds them religiously.  It started with one jay.  When the one jay was comfortable, he brought his family around.  The family of jays were so accustomed to my dad, they'd come right on up to him for their peanuts.  Happy with their situation, they stopped going south during the winter months.  Then they let Dad's grandkids feed them.  Little Si gets to feed Grandpa's birds.  Reece, not easily excited, was thrilled about feeding Grandpa's birds.  Dad keeps track of his birds.  Looks after them.  Keeps them in peanuts.  Enjoys them.  They're a part of his day.  A constant in his world.  

When he told me his birds weren't around anymore, I was surprised.  He said ten days ago he heard several shots fired from next door.  Dad hasn't seen his birds since.  He says maybe the shots he heard had nothing to do with the birds.  Maybe they'll come back.  I'm sure it's for my benefit he says this, leaving the possibility open that maybe everything's okay and I shouldn't worry about it.  "But your neighbor must have known they were your birds!"  I protested.  He hesitantly speculated the birds may have been killed because of, not despite, that fact.  That's when it happened.  That's when my heart broke.  I managed to tell my dad I was sorry and I hugged him goodbye.  I barely made it out of the driveway before I broke down.

I cried all the way out of Kalama.  I cried past Woodland.  I cried through Ridgefield and Battle Ground.  I cried all the way to my door.  I cried for my dad.  I cried for his birds.  I cried for Reece.  I cried for injustice and cruelty.  I cried for the families of the world torn apart by war.  (For what is war but the killing of birds, a dispute among neighbors that escalates to the harm of what each holds dear?)  I cried for hurt and loss and loneliness.  I cried for myself.  I cried because my heart hurt.  I cried because I was sad.  I shouldn't need a reason to cry, but I had one anyway. 

Maybe I'm too sensitive.  Too emotional.  Maybe I'm crazy, broken-hearted over a couple of scrub jays.  Maybe I had a meltdown coming.  Maybe the bird incident is the proverbial straw on this camel's back.  Or just maybe I'm the sane one for not being able to comprehend how anyone could willfully steal another man's joy.  Kill a man's birds.

In an effort to stop my tears, I tried to hate the person who made my dad's birds disappear.  But the closest I could come to hatred was pity.  In my youth, we couldn't say the word hate in my dad's house.  No other emotion was stifled, but my dad's kids were told that hatred didn't have to hold a place in them.  Maybe it was more implied than overt, but it's the message I got.  The man whose birds were stolen didn't think I needed to have hate in my heart.  I didn't.  I still don't.  For that I am glad.  Hate puts a bad cast on a person's soul. 

So maybe next post will be light.  Short and sweet.  Maybe between now and then the mean guys will have seemed less harsh to me.  Maybe the sun will come out.  Tomorrow.  Maybe I'll decide I've overreacted.  Maybe I won't worry about sending my son into a world with unneighborly neighbors lurking in the shadows.  Maybe tomorrow I'll forget all about it.  But not today.   Today my heart is broken.   



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