When Dad saw the photos from my 2018 falconry adventure, he asked if I’d ever heard about the little owl he found, back in his sailing days. I hadn’t, and given my newfound interest in birds of prey, I eagerly listened while he shared the tale.
Dad was Chief Mate on the container ship SS Detroit as it sailed from New Jersey to Puerto Rico. One morning, he discovered a tiny owl with its talons entangled in the ship’s rigging. The poor thing had been blown out to sea in a big storm the night before and was well and truly stuck. After freeing the terrified owl, Dad prevailed upon the ship’s cook to provide him with hamburger to feed his new charge. Trust-building was a challenge, and Dad described his huge sense of relief the first time the owl accepted food from his hand. When the ship docked in San Juan, he transferred the little survivor to the Audubon Society.
On November 1st, my mom, husband and I set up an altar to honor our departed loved ones. Mom thought it would be a good time to sift through piles of family photos she’d been given over the years, and in the process, we discovered this:
What a gift to find an image of Dad with his tiny rescued owl. Seeing him here reminds me of the countless times he offered care and comfort with sincerity and love, and without question.
My dad was a man of two hearts. The physical heart, with its valves, ventricles, aorta and atriums, was weak and fragile. It failed and took him from the world. But the heart he shared with others was fierce and mighty, radiating kindness, protection and generosity. That’s the heart he gave to those who crossed his path. That’s the heart that remains with us.