The Recorder – My Turn: Inspired by a Bird

Have you ever felt sorry for a bird? Our friend Peter Haley sent us an article about a book that Todd Civin from Winchendon has written about the struggles and successes of 31 people with disabilities. Peter knows that our son, Grant, is disabled and thought the article would be of interest. Yes, he did. In fact, the article inspired me to write this story about a bird that tugs at my heartstrings every morning as we watch the birds come to our son’s feeder while we eat breakfast.

We are visiting our son, Cort, in Hawaii. We have the same breakfast and bird watching routine here as when we are back in Phillipston, but here there are different varieties of birds to enjoy. One is the barred dove. There are many here, and one of them is very special. He only has one leg. It doesn’t look like he had any injuries, so I guess he was born that way. I call it Hopalong.

I gave him that name because he can’t walk, he hops. As all of his siblings walk in the grass and along the patio, he hops, and jumping in the grass is especially tiring for him. He cannot keep up with the others as they walk quickly with their heads nodding rhythmically with each step. He just hops and has to stop frequently to rest, but he keeps his head up with every jump. I admire that. It makes him look brave. In addition, he must have trouble keeping his balance with only one leg; I know it’s hard for me to keep my balance when I try to stand on one leg.

I am happy for him that he belongs to such a peaceful variety of birds. Doves are not aggressive to each other or to other birds. Hopalong is welcome to eat next to them, just as everyone is welcome. It reminds me of how the dove is often used as a symbol of peace. This is the bird that God sent when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The dove represents good things – love and peace.

I wish everyone could be like doves – kind, welcoming and kind to everyone. Last week, while I was at the grocery store, I met a man who reminded me of a dove. I stood on the bottom shelf, reaching for a box of cereal that was on the top one. For some reason, the cereals that my husband, Gerry, loves are always on the top shelf in every grocery store; it’s a challenge for me to get it. Well, that day a tall man come and said, “One thing that God gave me is height, let me give it to you.”

This great man saw a need and responded quickly. I’m not disabled but I had a hard time. A disabled person has difficulties every day and perhaps in every way. Some people have been mean to our son Grant, and others have reached out with care and compassion. The contrast in people reminds me of the contrast in birds – aggressive blue jays at home scaring away other birds and even each other from the feeder and the peaceful doves here welcoming everyone.

I admire doves and I admire people who are like doves. When you care about others, you care about yourself and help make the world a better place.

Author Todd Covin must be like a dove to spend two years writing a book about people with disabilities. I look forward to reading it. Of course, he knows the extra courage it took for these people to succeed and the extra care it took for the people in their lives to give them the support they needed. I like his title “Pulling Each Other Along”. That’s what we all have to do in this life.

Thanks, Peter. The article you sent us gave me the opportunity to express the thoughts that this dear little bird brings to me.

Phillipston’s Carole Gariepy has written seven books, all non-fiction. A recent one is a travel book, “Why go there? In her youth, she was a teacher.

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