When I was about 5 years old, a pigeon taught me an important lesson about time.
When I was younger, my grandma would babysit me from time to time. One day, my grandma was taking me home. We walked to the trains station and we noticed this waddling pigeon by the entrance of the station. This pigeon was flapping one wing in the air and waddling around like it had one too many breadcrumbs the night before. It was obviously injured, but I thought nothing of it and started to walk up the stairs into the station. I turned around to look for my grandma, and saw her with the pigeon in her arms. My eyes grew wide, and as a kid, that was probably one of the most memorable times where I wanted to disappear from family embarrassment.
At that very moment, I learned the complexity about having so much to say, but not being able to say it. I just looked at her with my eyebrows raised and kept a small distance. The thing I must mention, is that my grandmother is from Dominican Republic. She only speaks Spanish, and did not speak a lick of English. At 5 years old, I was very stubborn to learn how to speak Spanish, and my mom didn’t force it–I was able to understand the gist of things, but I couldn’t say anything back– so our communication mainly consisted of nods and nos. I knew how to say the important words like —pizza(pizza), arroz(rice), TV(…) and el baño (bathroom).
So we rode the subway–my grandma, the pigeon, and my scared 5 year old self, for 7 stops.You wouldn’t believe how long (and how comfortable) this pigeon rested in my grandma’s arms. People were gawking at us and some people were trying to ask her questions like, “Wow! Is that a trained pigeon?” She didn’t understand what they were saying so she just nodded and smiled. (I’ve learned that nodding and smiling can get you very far in life.)
We got oft train and walked 3 blocks to my apartment building, with a ride on the elevator to the 6th floor. As soon as we got inside, my grandma set the pigeon down, and like any smart 5 year old I went to my room to check on my toys. When I was done, I noticed my grandma was making rice, not for me, but for the pigeon. She cooked white rice for this pigeon, and I honestly don’t remember what she did for its injured wing.Half an hour later, this pigeon was eating white rice in my apartment, while I stood there confused and in disbelief of what was going on. I’m sure most 5 year olds would have been excited, but I was really concerned and embarrassed by the whole ordeal. The pigeon finished the rice, and my grandma set him outside the windowsill of the kitchen. He moved around a lil bit and then shortly after, he flew away.
Fast forward 20 years later, the pigeon visited me. Not literally, but the memory of this pigeon and that day visited me. I live with my mother and my grandma now, in a different apartment.My grandma is 94 and is very lively for her age, but she suffers from dementia. She sometimes has mood swings and is very forgetful. She remembers most things, but other times she mixes memories up. She may not even remember this pigeon story if l were to ask her.
To be quite honest, since living with my grandmother, it has been quite frustrating because of her dementia. There have been times where sadly I admit I’ve been embarrassed by her behavior due to her dementia. There was one day where she was in one of her moods, and that waddling pigeon came to mind. My eyes were opened, and I realized that 20 years later, I was still giving my grandmother distance and raised eyebrows. She doesn’t remember who she use to be, how she use to act, what day it is, and I just wish she acted normal. But the pigeon reminded me how much things change with time — which is something we’re all very forgetful of.
That pigeon made me think that, If I had known then, what I know now, I may have acted differently that day. Maybe I would’ve helped her with the rice, maybe I would’ve held the pigeon. Maybe I would’ve said to the people staring at us “No the pigeon is not trained, but my grandma is just such a cool grandma. Maybe I would’ve sat closer and not looked at her like she was out of her mind, but I didn’t know then what I know now. What I do have, is the the power to change now.
This pigeon visited me, to remind me how blessed I am to have a grandmother, walking, taking and living with me even if she’s not quite the same. I was reminded how important it is to appreciate the time I have in life NOW because I just don’t know what’s to come. This pigeon also reminded me, that my grandma taught me at a very young age, not to ignore common things or people in need, like that pigeon. She taught me that if you can do something–anything,that I should do it now, and not care about what others will think.
So I urge you to remember that it is important to live now, live in love,
and appreciate this moment– because this moment,
is already gone.