A Wing and a Prayer

Sometimes days go exactly as you plan. And some days are like this Saturday.

When I woke up Saturday I knew exactly how the day was going to go, knew what I’d do and when I’d do it. Had it all planned out. Then we heard the first car horn.

We were outside, and every time a car passed down the street it honked. It puzzled us. Then we saw it. Out on the pavement there was a bird – walking down the middle of the street. Sidling a little to one side or the other as cars passed, but not taking off.

It couldn’t. Even from 50 feet away we could see there was something seriously wrong with its wing, and there was an ugly red gash just in front of where the wing connects to the body.

The bird marched gamely on, then crossed the street. It stood at the end of the driveway three houses down from us. And just stood there. Tried to flap its wings and take off, but couldn’t.

Most people – myself included – would be inclined to think, “Poor bird. Mother Nature sure can can be a bitch,” and then get on with our day. Not my wife. Not Tori.

First we called the animal rescue place here in town. They would send someone out to “stabilize” the bird, then take it back to the shelter for rehab. It would cost us $300. I explained it’s not my bird. But it was my call, the woman explained, and they had to charge somebody. Well, that was out. I hung up.

That’s when Tori took over. She wouldn’t just forget about it. She couldn’t. Half an hour on the phone and she had found someplace that would take the bird, if we could get it there. The bird hadn’t gone far, so we were able to get around it and subdue it. I’ll say this, for a bird with a broken wing, she was otherwise very healthy and fast on her feet.

So between the calls and the chase, that was about an hour. Then we got in the car. The place that would accept the bird – the only one we could find on a Saturday – was an hour and 15 minute drive away. Middle of Nowhere Louisiana.

Wings of Hope was at the end of a long road in the middle of the country (which down here, is only three days of hard rain from returning to swampland.) The woman who runs it, Leslie Lattimore, has been involved in rehab all her life and runs the place as a labor of love. They operate on donations – and I recommend checking them out on line and sending them a few bucks.

Anyway, she looked the bird over, holding it gently but surely, talking to it the whole time. She couldn’t offer a lot of hope. The wing was badly broken, apparently held on only by skin, not tendon or muscle or ligament. Under those circumstances, there’s very little chance of recovery, but she said she would do what she could. At the very least, she said, we had spared the frightened bird a death in the cold rain on the street, or being torn apart by one of the neighborhood’s feral cats.

We made a donation and left, trusting that she would do what she can, and what she has to.

I think days like Saturday are exactly why I love Tori so much. Not because she’s kind to birds, or anything like that. But because her heart is so big, and she won’t let anything stop her from doing what she can for what she thinks is right, regardless.

Maybe it was a fool’s errand. It was obvious from the start the bird was badly injured, and the chance that it could recover seemed pretty small.

But if that’s the case, Tori would prefer to be a fool who cares and who tries, rather than a sage who sits back and says, “well, probably nothing you can do.” At least Tori tried. And I’m with her. That’s the gift she gives me.

She helps me be a fool.