Red Birds and Blue Birds

May 18th, 2022 – Post #43

Beth and Fred Bird

As far as these updates are concerned, “No news is good news.” It’s been a relief to not have much to report. My mom’s main issues are still mainly fatigue, weakness, and groin pain.

She did get to go to a St. Louis Cardinal’s baseball game this past weekend. One good thing about being in a wheelchair is that she got treated royally at the ballpark (sorry, but that’s not a nod to Kansas City).

After not social distancing from Fred Bird, she was worried and said she hoped he didn’t have Corona; but being an employee at Busch Stadium, I bet he has a no-compete clause barring him from any association with that brand name.

Even with his mask, Fred Bird might have been worried about getting the bird flu from her. Cardinal Fever can get pretty bad in St. Louis. For those of us that are immune, it can be particularly difficult to watch how it effects our loved ones.

Between watching her favorite baseball team, and looking out the picture window in her living room, my mom spends a lot of time watching Cardinals.

Her hair is continuing to grow, which seems to be a sign that her body is rebuilding rather than regressing.

Her appetite is somewhat diminished, but she’s still eating her Cheerios with blueberries, though she keeps accidentally interchanging that word for bluebirds.

By the way, she’d rather Cheerios just go back to being round, instead of heart shaped. Being the cynics that we are; we’ve been speculating that General Mills is probably saving millions of dollars squishing basic circles into skinny hearts to conserve batter and take up extra space in the boxes.

That being said, I smile every time I hear Miranda Lambert’s song, “Bluebird in My Heart”; because it reminds me of the “bluebirds” in my mom’s heart-shaped Cheerios.

Box Courtesy of Cheerios

The chorus goes:

“And if the whole wide world stops singing’

And all the stars goes dark

I’ll keep a light on in my soul

Keep a bluebird in my heart”

No matter how bad she’s felt; as long as she’s still asking for “bluebirds” on those heart-shaped Cheerios, it’s a sign that she’s hanging in there.

Another line from that song which makes me smile is:

“Yeah I’m a turner

I turn pages all the time”

It reminds me of the time my friend, Betsi, a gifted pianist, asked me to be her “page turner” during the school musical. It was a position for which I didn’t exactly have much in the way of credentials. I could follow the dots a little bit (I mean notes 🤓); but mostly just stared at Betsi from my seat beside her on the piano bench until she’d nod her head; which was my cue to turn the page.

My hovering had to be a little unnerving; but she never let on. Poor Mr. Poshak, the director, just shook his head, lamenting, “Betsi, couldn’t you have asked somebody who knows how to read music?”

In a lot of ways, my role as page turner reminds me of the call to be a caregiver. When it comes down to it, I’m not really qualified for either job. Both tend to be comprised of sitting close by, watching for clues about when to jump in and when to wait. There’s a tender balance between being overly officious and lagging behind.

From the perspective of the patient, I’m sure there are moments when my mom wishes she wasn’t being watched quite so closely; but to leave her unattended too long can make things rather off-beat. When it comes down to it, it takes patience and forbearance from both parties.

Another thing that comes to mind from the line, “Yeah I’m a turner, I turn pages all the time”, is my tendency to enjoy stories that are “page-turners”; while preferring that my own life has very little in the way of dramatic plots. I’d much rather read “Jane Eyre” than “The Pokey Little Puppy”; but when it comes to real-life, it’s sometimes hard to want anything too exciting to happen. When things veer too far from routine, I tend to dread what’s coming next; rather than looking forward to “flipping the page”.

There have been a lot of times in the last few years when I was scared of the next chapter – or paragraph – or line; mostly because, looking at the context clues, I knew they would include grief and loss.

Looking back though, I can see that every page was penned by the loving hand of Jesus, “The Author and Perfecter of my faith” (Hebrews 12:2).

I’ve learned that when I stop grabbing the pen, and let God write my story, the outcome is always abundantly better.

From a practical perspective, when doctors tell you that someone you love is dying, it can be hard to know how to go about living. Over the last few years, while being with family members I knew I’d be losing soon, I found myself stopping mid-step while entering a room to see if the person was still breathing – then realize I was forgetting to inhale and exhale for myself.

I don’t know what causes that kind of respiratory pause, but I think it comes down to a feeling of fear over being responsible for another person’s life and wellbeing.

In the midst of Hospice, the little daily decisions we’re all faced with can seem much more monumental than during “normal” life; and as far as trying to figure out things like taking trips and planning for the future, making choices can be pretty paralyzing. Self-induced guilt trips can keep anybody from feeling free to pack their bags.

That being said, it was hard to know what to do about Erica’s trip to the Grand Canyon, which had already been postponed for two years due to COVID Restrictions on the river. In the end, we decided she ought to go for it, and I’d stick with the original plan to stay with her kids. We all had a good time.

Erica made it back safe and sound. It wasn’t too surprising that our mom had a few dizzy spells from the day Erica climbed out of the Canyon until she made it back home. My theory is that while Erica made her ascent to higher altitude, maybe our mother’s blood pressure was compensating by plummeting just a bit, since she’d seemed to think keeping her vital signs elevated while Erica was down in the Canyon would somehow help keep her daughter alive.

I don’t think she’s had anymore episodes like that since Erica has been back home; but is pretty tuckered out today – and as far as I know, is still in her blue bathrobe. I’m posting remotely, since I still haven’t made it back to the Midwest (which is another sign that I think she’s doing better than expected). In the meantime, my dad and Megan are taking turns tending to the nest.

Thank you for all of your encouragement and prayers for us. I’ll do my best to keep you posted.

Love, Jody

Click here to find out how things got a little more complicated.

*To read more on my mom’s cancer journey from the beginning, or share it, please click below:


I'm not sure what to say here: I once got second place in a dog-look-alike-contest? I know how to fold a fitted sheet? I'm pretty much a poster child for social backwardness - at least as far as social media is concerned; but I have some stories I think I'm supposed to share and am attempting to do that here, in this space.

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