My late father was pretty advanced in his journey with Alzheimers when I read that AD patients respond well to animals. We got my Dad a little Maltese Poodle and it was love at first sight.
My Dad absolutely adored Tiger. He carried Tiger everywhere and Tiger sat with him, ate with him and slept with him.
One day my Dad and I were chatting and I asked him: “If you could be any animal what would you be?”
I fully expected him to say a Lion – he loved the magnificence of lions…I love eagles. I don’t think Dad quite understood what I was asking and said “You go first…”
“I would want to be an eagle…” I said
“Why?” he asked
“I want to soar high above the sky and experience that total solitude and quiet…” I replied
“Oh” Dad said. “I would want to be this little guy”
Dad did not remember the name of his beloved dog but he knew that the dog was loved, nurtured and spoilt!
I have always equated the turmoil of teenage and parent relationships as an “Eagle” relationship. The following is an extract from a site – http://www.eagleflight.org/cyberstudies/actions-and-attitudes-of-a-growing-church/157-with-eagles-wings. I have changed some of the headings and removed text that is not relevant but basically the content below belongs to http://www.eagleflight.com
Location is very important to the eagle and it’s young. If possible, eagles build their nests on the face of cliffs. They don’t build a nest in a tree unless they absolutely have to, because a nest in a tree can be easily accessed. They don’t build it on the top of the cliff, either, because on the top of a cliff it can be violated, too. Eagles build their nests in some inaccessible place.
The nest is built with consummate skill—not using little twigs, but great branches woven together in an immensely skillful way. If somehow an eagle’s nest is loosed from its moorings and falls, it rarely comes apart. In fact, eagles’ nests are so big, they have weighed in at half a ton! They’re comfortable, too. Their centers are carefully lined with feathers and leaves, and the eggs are placed there. When they hatch, the mother begins the process of feeding the babies.
After the eaglets get to a certain size, or maturity, everything changes! One day the mother eagle comes back from being gone, but this time there’s no food in her beak, and she doesn’t land on the edge of the nest. Instead, she hovers over the nest.
You may not know this, but an eagle can do almost what a hummingbird can do. Even though they are great birds, they can remain almost motionless in midair with those great wings just undulating in the breeze. They do this about three feet above the nest. I’m sure if little eagles could talk to one another—and maybe they can—one would certainly say, “My, what strong wings Mommy has.”
Why does the mother do this? She is demonstrating that those curious appendages on the babies’ backs have a useful function. Eagles, of course, were meant to fly, but they don’t know that. If we take an eagle and separate it at birth from its parents, it will never learn to fly. It will just grovel around in the dirt like a chicken. It might even look up and see eagles soaring overhead and never guess that it was meant to soar in the heavens.
Eagles have to be taught, and that’s the mother’s job. So first she just demonstrates.
The next thing she does is come down into the nest and surprise her young. One can imagine how warm it must normally be for the little eagles to snuggle with their mother and be enshrouded with her feathers, but this time she puts her head up against one of the little ones, and pushes that little one closer and closer to the edge of the nest. (“Hey mom, mom, what are you doing?”)
All at once she pushes the little one out of the nest, and the eaglet falls down the face of the cliff, surely to be destroyed. But not so! In a flash the great mother eagle flies down, catches the little one on her back, and flies up and deposits it in the nest. (“Whew! Mom, that must have been an accident.”) But it wasn’t an accident. The mother bird pushes the little one out again, and again, over and over.
Why would a mother do that to her young? Does she hates the little one? Not at all. It’s just that those little birds were made to fly, and they don’t know it, so she is going to push them out of the nest. She never lets them hit bottom, but she does let them fall, because they have to learn something they don’t know.
The next time the mother bird comes back she decides to clean house, and so she stands on the edge of the nest. The first things to go are the feathers inside; she drops them over the edge. Then the leaves go over the edge—heave ho! While this is going on, she’s not very talkative, either. (“Mom, what are you doing?”) She pays no attention. Since she built the house, she knows how to take it apart.
Next she decides to take the sticks out of the middle of the nest, and with her great strong beak and feet, she’s able to break them off and stand them straight up. (“Mom, it’s not comfortable in here anymore.”) Then she takes certain key sticks out of the nest and throws them over the edge. (“What are you doing, Mom? You are wrecking my room.”)
She seemingly pays no attention to the concerns of her young as she prepares to pull the nest apart, for she is determined that those little ones will fly, and she knows something they don’t. She knows they will never fly as long as they remain in the nest.
That is why teenagers and mothers fight…so they can learn to fly and “escape” home!
We all go through this stage with our teenagers. Most of the time we don’t even realize the process…. But Nature is great and takes over from us.
I was never able to let go of Vic. I wanted her close where I could hear her breathe. The movie “Terms of endearment” shows a mother who walks into the nursery and climbs into the cot to make sure that her baby is breathing. When the baby starts crying she promptly climbs out, marches out and says “That’s better…”
That is the mother I was! I mothered (smothered) my precious baby until her last breath. I do not regret that she never learnt to fly. Hell, she never even learnt to ride a bike!
As a parent we can only do our best. We love and nurture and then we set them free…
I just feel so lost and empty.