Hummingbirds and Conventional Wisdom
I really enjoy Colorado. I have for years. When I was a kid, every few years we would travel to Colorado and drive its beautiful roads that twist and wind. As an adult, my wife’s parents created a tradition of an annual family trip to Colorado over a long weekend, a tradition that we continue though both of her parents are gone.
I am not sure exactly what all attracts me to Colorado. I am sure it is the mountains, the fresh air, and the relief from the summer heat. But for me, nothing exemplifies the peacefulness of time off in Colorado like seeing a hummingbird.
My wife, Barbara, recently read that hummingbirds sometimes pass through our home area in Hays, Kansas. I have lived in Kansas almost my entire life, and I had never ever seen a hummingbird. We decided to give it a try, so off we went to the hardware store on a Sunday afternoon and sure enough they had hummingbird feeders. We hung the feeder below our pine tree. I cannot say that either of us was optimistic.
Recently, I had a brother and sister in my office. Both were well into their 80’s. They had actually taken care of their parents, and then after their parents passed away, they continued to care for each other. Clearly the brother was in poorer health, and his sister was the caregiver, to a degree. But they both relied on each other, with each preparing their own breakfasts, and then jointly preparing their evening meal. They share many household chores.
A couple years earlier the brother had gotten sick. He was hospitalized. Dementia was suddenly evident (though he had no previous signs of dementia), and the doctor wanted to discharge him to the nursing home.
Standing nose to nose with the doctor, the sister stated, “That’s not good enough. You must find out what is wrong with him. You act like it is just his time to go to a nursing home.”
At the sister’s “urging,” the doctor readmitted her brother and performed more tests. Guess what? It was determined that her brother had a nonmalignant tumor that was causing pressure on a gland, and that was causing a lot of the dementia and other issues. It was treatable, and once on the proper course of treatment, the dementia being experienced by her brother went away. He returned home. Because of her, the brother and sister were sitting across the table from me ready to do some planning.
You see, the sister was not going to accept that it “was her brother’s time”, even though that is what was told to her. Though both in their 80’s, she still believed she and her brother could continue to live independently. She knew that if she didn’t try, then it was not going to happen. She had come to my office to be sure that could happen in the best way possible, and that they had all the tools and information necessary to stay at home.
A hummingbird in May in Hays is a farfetched idea, at least for someone who does not know better. But if we do not try, we will not see what can happen, will we?
The Monday morning after I set up the feeder on Sunday, I sat on the back deck doing my reading. It was just after sun-up and a cool morning. I could hear doves cooing nearby. Then I saw a single hummingbird at our feeder. Everything seemed to stop, as he hovered in the air feeding himself. Trying not to disturb him, I slipped into the house to summon my wife and son. We watched silently at the blessing of seeing a hummingbird in Hays in May.
Someone had given us this crazy idea that we might have a hummingbird in our yard, if we would just set out a feeder; if we would just try. And it worked. We may never see another hummingbird again in Hays, in May, but one time we did. And it was special.