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  • One morning when I was in my mid teens, Mom woke me up early in the morning, urging me to get my glasses and follow her.

    She wanted to show me the cedar waxwing at one of her feeders. (Me = less than impressed.)

    But Mom taught me that it's the cardinal who sings "Cheer! Cheer! Cheer!" to me these mornings just before spring, the one who chirrups, "Pretty girl! Pretty girl!" when I'm feeling a little down, and that the female cardinals are olive green, rather than bright red (like this little beauty).

    Rilke said once that God made birds to remind us that there are angels. Mom never read Rilke, but she believed.

    She arranged to be cremated, and I rode along with the friend who scattered her ashes from a plane.

    As they flew in the wind, I thought about how much she had loved birds.

    And I could feel how happy she was to fly free.
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