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Angelic Messengers with Black Wings

How would her father feel about someone new at her mother’s side? A pair of winged creatures brought the answer.

Carved angel

Birds of a feather, that was my dad and me. We loved birds, all kinds of birds, and traded notes on our sightings. He and Mom had even more feeders in their yard than I did.

Dad used to make much of the fact that he’d never seen evening grosbeaks at my feeders. Large birds, easy to spot–the male with his bright yellow and black feathers, the less colorful female never far from his side.

Evening grosbeaks were unpredictable migrants, but every winter flocks of them devoured the sunflower seeds in Dad’s feeders just miles from where I lived.

He was right. I’d never seen any in my yard. “I’ll bring you some of my magic seeds,” Dad said once. “Maybe the grosbeaks will surprise you one of these days.” Mom laughed. “Now if they ever do come,” she said, “your father will take all the credit!”

Last December Dad was very much on my mind. I’d planned a family get-together at my house for the holidays, but Dad wouldn’t be there. He’d died the year before.

Mom had found a new companion, a childhood friend and a widower as lonely as she was. She was obviously happy, and I was happy for her. But I struggled with accepting it. Wasn’t it too soon to find another partner in life?

My holiday preparations included the birds, of course. Winter can be a hard time for them, so I filled the feeders to overflowing and clipped on extra suet cakes. The day before our celebration, I made napkin rings and place cards.

I felt uneasy as I went around the table putting the cards by the dinner plates. Especially when I put someone else’s at Dad’s usual chair. How would he feel about that? I wished I knew. “God, help me accept this. For Mom’s sake, at least.”

I walked through the family room for a last-minute check. Something caught my eye at the window. A bright yellow and black bird perched on the feeder. Too big to be a goldfinch.

I didn’t want to move, afraid I would scare him off. But he wasn’t bothered. He seemed to be trying to get my attention. Then I knew. An evening grosbeak! After all this time.

He glanced over his shoulder. Now he’ll fly away, I thought. But I saw what he was looking at. A female sat in our lilac bush. She flew to the feeder and perched beside her partner. They stayed there, just looking at me, as if trying to make a point.

“Eighteen years I’ve lived here,” I told them, “and finally you’ve come. In a pair, no less. I’d love to tell my dad!” Unless, maybe, he already knew.

“Yes, Dad,” I whispered. “This is quite a surprise.” And, I supposed, the timing of my visit from the grosbeaks couldn’t have been more appropriate.

Someone else would be in Dad’s chair this holiday, but I got the distinct feeling it was okay with him. We’re meant to be in pairs. Mom understood. Wouldn’t she laugh when she heard why I understood that now, too?

 

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