“A child looks up at the stars and wonders.
Great fathers put a child on his shoulders
and helps them to grab a star.”
– Reed Markham
Thank you for helping me to discover who I was in so many ways. Thank you for patiently showing me the ways around challenges, and for taking the brunt of my moods when my expectations surpassed my abilities. You taught me to keep a light heart and not take myself so seriously, even while at the same time, you held yourself by a different standard.
You were chronicled my past so I could look back upon it in the future, and understand some of the pieces of my own puzzle. You picked me up off the ground when I fell off life’s horses, and you hid your own concern while I told you how scared I had been.
You once told me a story that when I was eight years old we went riding off into the desert on rented horses, and when we found a creek you turned away for a moment, and when you turned back, I had gotten off my horse and I was giving it some grass and offering it a drink of water. You stood frozen in indecision. You knew it might not be safe for me, a novice horse girl, to be on the ground near a strange horse in the desert far from help should anything go awry. But you also knew there was nothing you could do. So like a father who watches his daughter ride off on her first bicycle, you held that space, as I blithely experienced my first innocent and happy moments with a horse in nature.
You engendered my love of nature, photography, and teaching. You encouraged me to pursue my dreams and you told me I could achieve anything I set my mind to.
As I grew up I lost you for awhile, but then I found you again, and discovered you were there, all along.
I love you,
A Gift from Dad ~ The Flight of the Pheasant
My dad passed away suddenly of a heart attack in April of 2012. A few days later I had a dream about him in which he was joking and laughing. He had always been a jokester and it was wonderful to see him that way again as the last few years of his life had been difficult.
I had asked for a sign from his spirit, and my husband Rod mentioned that he had seen a male pheasant on our farm soon after. This was remarkable because in the twelve years we had lived on the farm, we had heard a single male pheasant occasionally but never seen him. But I didn’t see the pheasant so I couldn’t be sure the message was for me.
The next day Rod and I were going to dinner, and we got in the car and sat in the driveway for a few moments, talking. I was remarking about Dad’s upcoming memorial. I was considering the interesting tradition of a memorial ceremony and how we gather to celebrate the life of someone after they are gone, when they aren’t there in person to enjoy it themselves.
As Rod started the car and we turned out of the driveway, the male pheasant suddenly appeared gliding with wings outstretched, about 8 feet above the ground directly in front of our car. He was crossing from our neighbor’s yard over their high wire fence, into our pasture where he landed and proceeded to feed The vision was stunning, with the light of the setting sun illuminating his wings and his long beautiful tail. The timing of the conversation and the sign was so clear to me that I couldn’t mistake it, and I realized with a smile that Dad would be there at his memorial to witness us all celebrating his life. I realized it was only when I looked with a limited perspective that I thought he wasn’t near; because he was in the call of the pheasant and the light through its beautiful wings.
Four years later in 2016 I received another confirmation of messages from Spirit. Since that first sighting we had only rarely seen the male pheasant during those years and I often remarked I wish he could find a mate. When my father died in 2012 he was survived by his wife Donna who was infirm and in a nursing home with Alzheimer’s. One morning in May I saw a large bird under the bird feeder and realized with surprise it was a female pheasant. I was so pleased that there was now a female in our neighborhood. Later that morning, I received the news that my step mother had passed away. I knew then that the message was from her. I emailed Donna’s son Bill and his wife Anne to share the story of the pheasant. Anne wrote back with the following note:
I loved hearing about the pheasants in the lovely card you sent. When I looked at the picture just now, I recalled that yesterday morning, shortly after Donna passed, (but before I knew that she had), my 1st graders were learning how to spell words with “ph” in them. We spent a great deal of time on the word “pheasant”, and we were all drawing pheasants on our whiteboards. 30 first graders drawing pheasants. Yesterday morning around 10:00 am. Wow.