If you grew up in a household like I did, National Bird Day was anything but a date to behold. My mother had a deep seeded fear of birds instilled in at a very young age. She regularly would tell my brother and me about the hazards of birds- they are dirty, have lice, can get tangled in your hair, etc. I have a feeling she was still spooked from watching Hitchcock’s The Birds.
Fortunately, we had the chance to form our own opinions. Growing up, I would appreciate the ducks and swans who make a home on the lake of our country house at The Lake of the Woods, Virginia. When I moved to Southern California, seagulls were my companions as I lay on the beaches getting used to living near the ocean. My sister-in-law had a home in Clearwater, Florida where I would love to watch the rare Rosetta Spoonbills fly over with their flamingo pink bodies and utensil shaped beaks. Colorado is home to my favorite Blue Herons who would gently sweep across the sky as I rowed Cherry Creek Reservoir and made their homes in aged Cottonwood trees.
Spring, my father mention that he enjoyed putting seed on their back deck railing and watching the birds scoop it up. I decided a bird feeder would be a good choice when it came time for Father’s Day. That proved to be one of the best home run hit gifts of a life time. I would call my parents every couple of days to check in and inevitably would receive a bird report. The mourning doves really seemed to fascinate my father as they were so much larger than the sparrows and other breeds who would visit the feeder. He shared with me that they were mourning doves versus morning doves because of the tear shaped coloring near their eyes.
Just six months later, our family had their own tear filled eyes as my father passed on December 19. He lived a healthy 90 years and had a remarkably short and pain free bout with cancer. Such a blessing yet we were still incredibly sad to lose such a great man. Seeing the birds continue to peck away at the seed he had placed in the feeder just a short time again filled us with such joy. He was still making a difference in this world, even for the birds.
When it came time to plan out his funeral ceremony, I wanted to do something different. Something that would be unique for him. I had attended another funeral in Colorado of a dear friend whose daughter had released a dove in her mother’s memory. It was such a beautiful representation of angels and releasing the one you love to their next journey, I decided to honor my father in the same way.
The bird hander will share some bird related memorial biblical and poetry versus and the minister will close with a dove related scripture to flow with the bird release ceremony. When it comes time for the release, 11 doves will be freed from their white wicker baskets to circle above, representing angels. The 12th dove represents my father.
“He” will be placed in my mother’s hands (if she can bear it, otherwise one of the rest of us will hold it) and loved ones including my brother, his wife and kids, my husband and my father’s sister will lay our hands on my mother’s as she releases the dove to join its companions. What a lovely way for our family to “release” my father from these earthly bonds to his next journey.
If you are a fellow bird lover, I’d like to invite you to share you adoration by volunteering with the National Audubon Society, raptor rehabilitation groups, bird counting or any other way you can assist our winged friends. For more about National Bird Day, visit http://nationaldaycalendar.com/national-bird-day-january-5/
Karen Loucks Rinedollar inspires audiences on the importance of volunteerism with colleges, non-profits, associations and corporations. She is the Founder and Denver Coordinator of the children’s charity Project Linus and happy hummingbird feeder. To learn more about her availability for your next conference or meeting, please contact Denver Speakers Bureau at (303) 478-6652 or firstname.lastname@example.org.