I vaguely remember my birth mother and yet I distinctly remember the day I was brought home to meet my adopted mother.
With arms flailing in the air she yelled at her husband, “A goose! Mike, what in the world am I going to do with a goose?”
“Actually, it’s a gosling,” he replied. “He’s your Easter present.”
That evening I noticed she was reading a book with pictures of geese in it. She found a picture of a gosling that looked just like me. It had bright yellow, fluffy feathers which appeared to be as soft as mine. I think Mother liked my softness because she kept stroking my back while looking through the book. I could get use to this I thought with a waggle of my tail.
“Okay, Sunshine. What do I do with you now?” she asked me the next day. “Geese like to swim, right?” What a glorious morning I spent splashing around in my new pond in the bathroom.
My home was a 10 gallon fish tank which had been ear-marked for a future garage sale. I was beginning to fit comfortably into my new surroundings. The service was great and the food spectacular. The man at the farm implement store recommended a bag mix of seeds and sunflowers. However, my favorite foods were fruits and vegetables, especially oranges.
“Honk! I’m lonely,” I cried a couple days later. I was beginning to grow fond of my adopted mother, yet I wanted the company of other geese as well. Geese are social birds who like to flock together.
“Hey, who’s this handsome fellow?” I asked. From that day on my best friend was another snow goose who lived in a long, narrow glassy thing. He hung out on the wall right next to my aquarium. He seemed to anticipate my every move and sound. No matter what I did or said, he did it simultaneously.
Each day I found myself being drawn closer to Mother. When she worked in the yard, I followed her around constantly. I quite often needed her touch and reassurance. I loved giving her pecky kisses and flutter hugs. I think she liked them too.
“Catch me if you can!” I honked while running through the grass in the back yard. Some of my favorite times were when my adopted brother and sister came home from school. I would play in the backyard with them and their friends. They would put out their arms like wings and fly through the grass. I was right behind them doing the same thing. I probably looked a little silly since my body grew quicker than my wings. Silly or not, I loved the exercise and could feel myself getting stronger every day.
“Now I know where they get the expression “Loosey Goosey,” Mother moaned after they came home from church one Sunday. I had grown rapidly in the month and half I had lived with my new family. Since my fish tank was uncomfortable, I decided to fly the coop. I had a grand morning exploring the different rooms of the house. You can only imagine my excitement when, in one of the bedrooms, I found a bed full of water. I never could figure out how to get to the water though. It was a wobbly ride for sure. That afternoon Father set up a fenced area for me in the backyard.
I loved Mother. I loved my home. However, after six months, there was a stirring in my heart that I couldn’t put a webbed foot on, at least not at first. Even though my life was satisfying there seemed to be something missing. Just like the leaves on the trees were changing, so was my contentment.
And then I knew. One day a flock of geese flew above me headed towards a warmer climate. The next day there were several more flocks that flew over, encouraging me to join them. I hesitated because I didn’t want to leave Mother.
On the third day, I knew what I had to do. All the summer workouts with my friends in the backyard had paid off. I was strong, healthy and ready. Without looking back, otherwise it would have been too painful, I joined a flock of snow geese. I couldn’t help myself. It seemed the right thing to do.
One day I came home and Sunshine was gone. This is how I chose to believe he left. Gone but never forgotten.
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