The Broken Bird (#335)

I got out of my car at my in-laws’ our new house (it is hard to call it something different after twelve years) and looked into the eyes of a black bird. It was nestled among the roots of a tree, its wings pulled in close to its plump body, tufts of feathers sticking up here and there. It did not move.
I did not move. I thought I saw the bird’s beak peck.

I could move, and I walked into the house to talk to my father-in-law, who was at his kitchen table talking to a contractor. Bathrooms and doorways have to be altered to accommodate walkers and wheelchairs; locks have been put in that Charlie cannot open without the key. There is talk of an addition, downstairs and up: We will be a multigenerational family, with Jim and me the sandwiched generation ferrying walkers, wheelchairs, “choo tube,” Daddy’s blue blanket, extra clothes, for our disabled child and my disabled in-laws.

The contractor told me I could pick up the bird and bring it to the animal shelter which I confess I did not do. Later, Jim told me they heard noises in the garage: The bird had gone in there. The nurse carried it back out while Jim took his dad to visit his mother in the hospital. She started a new treatment on Wednesday.

Jim was sad. “It’s a poor disabled bird.” And he was tired, after rushing from the Bronx to central New Jersey on a day when there were massive transit delays–that is to say, rushing on a day when canceled trains made rushing impossible.

“It’s disability all over.”

I realize I have yet to mention Charlie in this post, despite the fact that this is Charlie’s blog. With so much commotion, transition, and change swirling around him, I am quite prepared for some big behavioral episode that sends the furniture flying.

I believe that Charlie not only understands all the changes going on around him, but that he also understands the gravity of Grandma’s situation. I remember how, after 9/11, my Manhattanite sister-in-law glared whenever too much mention of what had happened was made in the presence of her children. At the time I had thought, they must be hearing about it everywhere, in school and elsewhere, we ought to talk about it—-now, I have been watching what I say when discussing my mother-in-law in Charlie’s presence. I say to Jim “How is she?” and after his quiet response (“well you know”), I change the subject. “Charlie’s sight-reading the at school! Did a whole ABA session today and had a ball.” Pause. (Cell phone noises.) “We went to the store and got sushi, and then he had to sit and wait at Walgreen’s while we got his medicine. He was so good.”

I believe that the broken bird knew that it was broken.

I am not sure I want to look around the yard tomorrow morning.

I am sure I will hear Charlie’s singing voice tomorrow, as he sang this afternoon: Meh-bee spare-row, oooo dood ay, meh-bee spare-row.

For those who will not hear the words

La di da di da di da
La di da di da di da

Maybe sparrow
Maybe sparrow

6 Responses to “The Broken Bird (#335)”
  1. Rose says:

    How interesting that Charlie found the words to express his ideas…beautiful “communication” post. I have no doubt it is your perception that encourages it.

  2. Rose, thank you for your insight—music and song often seem to be a way to Charlie to speak.

  3. vincent says:

    Kristina, I’m officially a fan of your blog. You write everything with such poetry.

    Seems like Charlie might be a bit more high functioning than our son, but like your family, we’ve faced relocations in order to secure appropriate schools and services for him. Kristina, what do you think are real solutions for families like our? I mean, how many moves must we endure. As you’ve eloquently said, the transitional period can be quite unpredictable and stressful for the kids and for us parents. Actually, we’re planning one more move next year. This time not just for our son, but for the protection of the little remaining savings we have left.
    My wife and I are committed to doing what it takes, but finances are running thin. Is there something our public officials can do to provide a cost savings when our families must move like this?I’d appreciate your insights.

    Charlie for President 🙂

  4. Vincent, I don’t even know where to begin to answer! Am overwhelmed and not just by the thought of “Charlie for President……”. Would one thing to consider be, public officials providing some kind of “new to the neighborhood” help—-at least making it easier for a family to connect with services, esp. someone to help take care of a child (not that I could have a stranger watching Charlie) while one is doing all of those things you need to do when moving, from buying paper products at Target to getting bank accounts set up.

    I often think of us as both pilgrims and pioneers.

  5. Lisa says:


    Your post moved me to write a poem for you and Charlie. I posted it on the blog today. I hope it has meaning and resonance for you as your post did for me.


  6. vincent says:

    Kristina, that makes sence(referencing your last post). Actually, we tend to associate with the gypsy lifestyle 🙂
    My wife and I consider ourselves firmly in the middle-class, but our son’s expenses for treatments and services are overwelming. I guess, knowing that we’re not the only ones lioving like this does serve as some consolation, thus why your blog means so much to families like mine. Actually, my wife and I now read your blog daily and it really serves as a source of encouragement and inspiration. Oh yeah, about Charlie for President 🙂 I think auts will eventually begin to take their places in society. I think their contributions can be amazing. Charlie, having you serve as his Secretary of Peace, will sure to have a great impact on our country.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

  • What’s all this about?

%d bloggers like this: