How I’ll Be Reminded of You, Dear Uncle:

I’m not entirely sure when I started following signs or meaning in things, but one summer’s day 3 years ago stands out the most.  I was walking with a friend down Tanglewood beach- a place reserved for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, but no secret to locals.  She stopped to pick up a Spotted Woodpecker feather.
“These are really rare to find.  I think it was you in my dream I had recently, and you had one.”  She then gave it to me and said they were a good omen.

I never paid too much attention to birds until this past spring.  A series of three events involving birds could not escape my attention.

My last weekend working and living in Connecticut this past May, I went for a walk at dusk with a friend, and I spotted a Barred Owl.  It was maybe 15 ft away, the closest I’ve ever seen one, and quite possibly the only time I had seen one in the wild.  It was a special moment and I won’t forget the powerful impression of that bird.

The next day, we took a drive.  Out of nowhere, something flew past my friend’s head as he dodged to miss it and hit what we thought was the side of my car.  Then, like a dream, feathers began to float up to the front.  We pulled over to inspect my trunk and found a beautiful little titmouse.  It had hit a car coming in the opposite direction, ricocheting into the open window of the driver’s side and hitting the back of my car.  It was an instant death.  We agreed that this was a rare occurrence.  We brought it back to my place and buried it in the back.

Finally, two days later I was telling my peers about my strange bird encounters.  Right in the middle of my story, 2 barn swallows came flying through the open door.  I was stunned.  This all had to mean something.

A week later I drove 3,000 miles in 4 days for a job out in California.  As I was given a tour of the campus I was about to work at, walking up the steps to my office, I was greeted by a sign that read, ‘Caution, Barn Swallows Nesting.’  I was delighted to find that there were Barn Swallows directly outside my office, and when I opened the door, I could watch them fly about.  Not only that, but the swallow was one of the new themed emblems for the summer season of the organization I was working with.  I felt that I was where I was supposed to be.

The baby swallows hatched, grew big, and one day flew away.  The funny thing was, no one ever saw them attempt to fly.  We gathered that they must have practiced after hours to surprise us all.  In between that time of growing up, barn swallows would fly into the building I work in often.  From never having witnessed this, to having it happen often was strange in itself.

After the fledglings left the nest, maintenance took it down.  I was saddened by this, only to be lifted back up when a few days later, the swallows were building their nest again in the same exact spot!

A few weeks ago I started to hear an Owl outside, every night.  I learned that there is a family of Owls living in my back yard.  I still hear them every night, and I feel a bit incomplete until I hear a deep ‘whoing’ before I go to bed.

I’m writing this on the day of my Uncle’s death.  I have been reminded that life is cyclical.  These birds have filled me with wonder.  Although my heart is sad  I will continue to fly to my hearts desire and I know that always made him happy.  He was bound to a wheelchair for a very long time, and I know his soul is flying free now.  He’s left us a lucky feather…