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  • Writer's pictureGary Gruber

There are no Coincidences in Life

While I never envisioned this blog to be a reflection on my day to day, an incident earlier this morning bears closer examination. I seem to be walking a very fine line: four cats inside that are permitted early morning forays into the backyard, and a bird sanctuary out back that hosts well over two dozen birdies, of at least 4-5 different species.

The birds usually rouse themselves and begin their daily activities around 6 am. We try to make certain that the cats are indoors well before that hour approaches. Considering the complications regarding my recent surgery and the inordinately long period of healing – including the nocturnal activities that easily exhaust both Phyllis and me, some mornings start later than others. Today was one of those days.

I popped out of bed at 5:45, way too close to our event swap; especially with 3 of the 4 cats still unaccounted for. Mary and Spot came in immediately upon me opening the kitchen door, but Mojo was lingering, causing all sorts of voodoo thoughts to stand tall and proper on my frontal lobe. I used up all of the usual enticements to get her attention – to no avail.

I moved from door to door, trying to rouse her. Finally, out of the corner of my left eye, I spied my kitten, in the condition I had hoped against hope would not happen. Clamped firmly in her jaws was a baby house finch. If my heart sank any lower, the sun would have stopped rising today and would have quickly scurried behind the moon, or the mountains, or the equator – certainly somewhere that would have blotted out the light of day.

This is one of those situations where I must use all of my body parts at once, conceiving of a physical harmony that defied both gravity and all odds to render the conclusion I was hoping for. Spot and Mary both wanted to go back outside to examine Mojo’s catch-of-the-day. I tried running from the kitchen to my office – to hopefully trap the other cats in the dining room by closing my office door.

That failed miserably. I then scurried back to the kitchen, trying to get outside before Spot could make a 180 and follow me. Another failure. This is when I put into play all of my ballerina skills. Standing on my left leg, I used my right one to parry with Spot and Mary, attempting to slip outside before they could follow me and before Mojo could slip through with her birdie prize. Shifting my weight quickly, I was able to convince Spot to stay inside with a very light tap in the face, and at the same time pushed Mojo back with the other foot. Thinking this through again, It now feels as if this movement was physically impossible to conjure up given my current physical condition.

I’m absolutely certain St. Michael the Archangel must have been balancing me as I performed a movement that would have impressed at least Rudolf Nuriev had he been looking down from heaven at that particular moment.

For the non-cat-lovers in the audience, the presentation ritual is simple but steeped in centuries of tradition. In the same way that we give our cats toys to play with, they frequently return with mice, birds or similar small game as gifts for us. When the cat is ready, it drops the animal at the feet of its owner. It is then up to you and me to play with the animal in the same fashion as the cat does with its stuffed animal. To not at least handle the bird or rodent for a while can be perceived as a great insult to the feline.

All the other cats in the house wanted to share in the joy of the gift, hence me being surrounded by Spot and Mary (Frisky was busy).

Mojo insisted on bringing the bird inside before releasing it. I insisted on her releasing it outside. Impasse.

To hasten the process, I picked Mojo up. Her grip on the baby bird had not waned a bit. Becoming impatient, I sought to quicken the ritual. This involved holding her with one hand and forcing her tightly clenched jaws open with the other. I was already crying. The thought of cleaning up a dead bird that I was entrusted with in my care left me limp, deflated, and forlorn.

Then, the most amazing thing happened. As the bird dropped away from Mojo’s jaws, her wings fluttered, the bird picked up steam, and flew away gracefully to the bushes behind our concrete wall where they all lived.

My heart stopped briefly. In one fell swoop I brought Mojo inside, put her down onto the kitchen floor and stepped back outside to quietly embrace what had just happened. Phyllis’ first thought was simple but significant. A few months ago Mojo had to have an incisor removed. Was it possible that the missing tooth aided the birdie in surviving this near-death experience? Was Mojo simply grasping the birdie lightly so she and her brothers could chase it around the house once released? (That has happened more than once in the past).

Whatever the reason, my heart fluttered to life again, just like those birdie wings. Like I said earlier, there are no coincidences in life; things happen for a purpose – whether or not we are prepared to understand or accept them.

If you can, utter these words some time: “Glory be to God.”

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