My dear friend Loren died last night peacefully in his bed surrounded by his loving family.
He battled bravely for ten years without a word of complaint and always with a sense of humor.
The angriest word I ever heard him ever utter was, MERCY!
Now cracks a noble heart. Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.
-Hamlet, Act V
My friend, Loren, is ailing right now and has few pleasures these days. His wife, Mary, is at his side 24/7 caring for his every need. Always on the hunt to find something to cheer him up, she came up with an idea she thought might do the trick. She had her son, Michael, build a large plywood platform beneath the window where Loren sits to watch the day go by. They placed colorful wind chimes, a bird feeder, and a water bottle on the platform.
Soon there were birds descending on it as if it was a new airport runway. One day, a couple of doves came to visit. They ate and drank along with the robins, sparrows, cardinals, and even little humming birds all chattering happily like it was a bird social. The doves must have called, e-mailed, or written to every single dove in San Diego County because in a matter of days, doves began moving in for good. Today they have even established a queue or a waiting line on some power lines above the house. They sit waiting patiently for their turn. There are far too many of them to land all at once. So they are orderly and organized.
One day, I got a frantic call from Mary asking me to come there immediately. I ran outside carrying my trusty Flip camera. When I got to the door, Mary blurted out, “Look behind you!” I whirled around to see a very young Golden Eagle perched menacingly in a tall palm tree. His eyes were wild and he looked poised to strike, possibly at me. I turned on my camera and slowly raised it until his beautiful wild eyes came into view. He stood quite still. He seemed to settle down and was more curious than threatening.
He watched the doves, sparrows, and even young blackbirds as they engaged in a feast of seeds and fresh water. I felt sure that soon he would swoop down and snatch up one of the birds but he just kept watching the joyful activity.
The birds played on as if there was no threat at all and soon the eagle flew away. We all marveled at the outcome and thought that our presence may have saved the lives of a bird or two. Yesterday I received another frantic call from Mary. The eagle was there again in the very same tree. He was there simply to observe that blissful pageant.
I never got there in time to see the eagle again, but Mary told me that he was much bigger now and more beautiful than ever.
So the bird platform sits there. It is an unenclosed aviary inhabited by an army of feathered vertebrates. Loren watches and smiles with glee as the magnificent procession prolongs.
A few years back when Loren was suffering many seizures, his shunt would malfunction causing him all kinds of problems. He would have hideous hallucinations that shook him up. One night, his wife asked me to come up because he was in a panic. He imagined that a giant eagle had flown in through his window, which was closed, and that it was hiding behind a chest of drawers. I convinced him that it had gone but he now saw it at the window again. I said I would go outside and chase it away. I did and then yelled to him that it was now gone. He thanked me and I went home.
The next morning, Loren realized that the intruding eagle was not real and that I had just played along with him at the time in an effort to calm him. He told Mary that I was a really good friend and then he belly laughed all day about it.