My interest in animals started at an early age. My mom, having been raised on a farm, was a regular Dr. Doolittle. We always seemed to have a dog or cat, a bird and at one point even an eight-inch alligator which was sent to us from Florida.

When these animals died, we had elaborate funerals and buried our birds and the alligator in a shoebox full of dried leaves and flowers surrounding them. My mom was pulled from the kitchen to stand with my brother and me as we each said something thoughtful about them.

The number of tears was always in exact correlation to the size of the pet; after a few minutes of crying, we went off to play, until another service was required.

Birds really intrigued me. One Christmas, my mom’s aunt gave my brother and me a baby parakeet. When no one was looking, my little brother decided to give ”Junior” a ride in his new electric train. Junior wouldn’t jump in at first, so my brother forced him in the boxcar, set the train for warp speed and away he went.

When I came back into the room, the boxcar was zooming around the coffee table coming in for an abrupt stop. My brother gave me that little devil brother look and said, “He wanted a ride.”

When he slid open the car door, Junior’s beady eyes looked odd and as he hopped out he seemed to looe his sense of direction, walking in circles for a few seconds.

Birds seem to play a roll in spiritual healing for many. They are one of the most ancient forms of life on earth many scientists believe that birds evolved from reptiles 140,000,000 years ago. Seeing them fly shows us a freedom and connection that they have with the air and the earth. Watching God’s creatures slows us down and, as we become quieter, we let the spirit show itself to us.

Think of the intensity of a small child squatting down, hands on their knees, butt grazing the ground studying an insect for long periods of time. They are in the moment.

The Native American has always been connected with the earth and its animal world. They have a deep reverence to all God’s creatures and feel that this universe and its animals are a part of the world’s inter-connectedness.

Soon after my son’s death, I was walking down our country road trying to get a grip on what had happened to our well-planned lives. As I was on the way back home I said to Rocky, “If you are here, show me a sign.”

As I approached our house, a small brown bird sat in front of my door. I bent down picked him up and he sat on my hand, looked at me and flew away.

Why is it that in the beginning, even when we know our child is around us, we still need proof?

Most of us have a strong belief in a higher source. We believe that God is always around us, so why do we have trouble imagining the energy and spirit of our child by our side? The same pure love that God has for us is what we feel for our child and when that child dies, it comes full circle, showering graces back to us ten-fold.

When I see a feather on the ground, I think of my son saying, “Hi mom, I’m here.” Others may think it silly, but I know it as a truth and don’t need to explain to anyone what is obvious to me.

Vicky Bates 2011


Vicky Bates

After 18 years of marriage and career, we decided to adopt two babies. My oldest had many health issues which after 10 years led to a fatal anaphylactic shock. I believe that my spiritual beliefs helped me understand that the tragedies we face challenge us to confront our pain and slowly work through it. That is what I did through helping with hospice and watching the process of transition for the dying and seeing that even in the hardest times the gentle kindness of humor is a necessary tool.

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