Monday, May 21, 2007

A Lady Looks For Her Nest
By Terri Jackson

My father used to rescue baby birds that had fallen from their nests onto our lawn, saving them from being caught in the rotating blades of his lawn mower on Saturday mornings in the spring. He would call us, my little brother and me, out to see them. He’d say, “Now that they’ve fallen out of the nest the mother won’t come back for them.” He would scoop the babies up in newspaper and put them in an old birdcage we had in the garage. My brother and I would try to make the cage inviting by laying newspaper down and putting in twigs and feathers that we found in the yard, as if the baby bird could build its own nest. We would leave water in a plastic bottle top and collect worms and chop them up. Since their mother abandoned them they were our responsibility. The birds were always tiny; their feathers appeared wet, creating the very thinnest layer of warmth for their bodies. Their necks strained upwards. Their beaks open. They would make the tiniest reed-thin noise. They waited for their mother to fly back and drop food into them, cover them with her warm body and make them feel safe. At night we would cover the bird cage with a blanket to keep the chicks warm, but invariably when we would check on them in the morning the baby bird would be laying at the bottom of the cage, on its side, its beak open, dead and stiff. The birds weren’t guaranteed a long life. My father believes that everyone deserves a little caring, and love even if you can’t save them from their fate. My father is a good man. My father has character. To this day, I still think that he knows something about everything. My father took time with his children, and taught my brother and my sister, and probably even my mother lessons about what it means to appreciate your blessings and live your life with integrity and respect for those around you -- even tiny birds that fall out of their nests onto your lawn.

I was that bird when I was younger when I lived with my parents. I didn’t fall out of the nest; rather I left willingly, all of my feathers intact. I had stowed away all of the lessons my father and my mother taught me. A Lady in waiting, I wear them like a fine coat of armor that keeps the harm out, but gives me the confidence to take the risk of letting other people in. After so many years away of finding myself and living like an adult in New York, I feel like I can go back and build my own nest.

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