I have been to therapy. I am a spiritual seeker. I try to use “I” language and not place blame. I look for the hidden hurt behind angry eyes. Workshop after workshop, healing is my livelihood.
Everything I’ve learned, though, turns to shit when said angry eyes belong to my father. Dang he pushes buttons.
He’s got a short fuse, but now it’s worse because my mother is sick and he’s scared and nervous. His decisions seem rash to me and my sister. We try to help. We can’t. Our suggestions are ignored and replaced with frightened illogic. Everything we’ve learned in therapy fails. So we get mad, too.
We are arguing and crying and trying to figure out if mom should be in a nursing home. Assisted living. Memory care unit. They all sound so bleak and dad won’t let her go. My sister and I do not live close so we drive and fly to help out as best we can. Nothing seems like a good enough solution.
Yesterday it came to me like a dream, a vision of living with my mom and my dad, the old fashioned way, generations together, taking care of each other. I can feel Dad’s anger melt into this wish for the way he lived with his mother and father and babci and dziadiu. I suddenly wish for it, too. Dad would be making chicken soup, forgetting I don’t eat meat, and driving us all nuts with his obsessive recycling. Mom would be sitting on the front porch, waving, and hoping to I-spy the neighbor’s cat.
I am convinced that Dad would happy and Mom wouldn’t have Alzheimers anymore if we just could share meals in my kitchen on Grandma’s plum pattern plates. My sister would visit from California and everyone would get to know Leo.
I call my sister, “Should I ask them?!” She thinks I’ve lost it. “Are you listening to you? Have you thought this through? You want all that crazy in your home every day?!!”
As I’m talking to my sister, I’m looking out the window to the tree in the back yard. A robin swoops in and lands on a branch directly at eye-level. She doesn’t fidget and twitter like a bird. She sits oddly still and holds my gaze.
I hear my own voice as if far away, continuing to talk to my sister. I hear me talk about pain and healing in our family, about letting go of the past and cherishing our time together. My sister talks about that, too, and it doesn’t sound like us. All the while, the robin doesn’t move.
The length of time that she sits still is uncanny and the spiritual seeker in me decides that she is a message. Later I google “symbolism of a robin.” Wouldn’t you know, it says rebirth, spiritual growth, resolving conflicts with a song in your heart, letting go of the past and drama that no longer serves, moving forward with grace and tenacity.
There is one search result, though, that especially grabs me. A questioner named Lisa writes in to a healer about sightings of a robin. I’m not agoraphobic, as is the Lisa in the article, but I realize I’ve let my life get small enough so that soon she could be me.
Thank you for the wake-up call, Robin.