Musings from “Elder Jail”

By Judy McIntyre

What good can come from “Elder Jail?” At 73, I wondered and I pondered. My being self-quarantined to my home has led to some feelings of loneliness. I miss my spouse who passed away about a year and a half ago. I miss my friends and neighbors. We text and talk, but there is nothing like a visit and a good ole Southern hug. I miss my family, and I look forward to FaceTime calls from them daily. They have been so good to call me each day since their dad died, but now they are working from home, and home schooling the “wild Indians,” otherwise known as grandchildren. And life for them is more of a three ring circus than my life is. God has been showing me how I am not alone and how I am blessed to have “Elder Jail.”

I have learned how to defeat loneliness as I look and listen to what is all around me on Sibley Lake. Blessings don’t have to be things you get, they can be things you give up as well. I have been forced to give up the “Hurry” in my life. The rush to get places is gone. A minor blessing is that I never have to look for my car keys because I am not going anywhere! I am slowing down, listening more, seeing more, and beginning to really treasure “Elder Jail.” I can sit in my rocker and watch spring kick back winter’s covers. My calendar is on vacation! To my delight, the purple martins have moved back in their three story bird house by the lake. They are the happiest birds in my yard, and their chirping is LOUD. As I watch them from my rocker, they are gliding like airplanes at a busy airport, stacked up in circling patterns, vacuuming up thousands of mosquitoes and gnats. I want to sing with joy! I know that because of their hard work, I will be able to fish for crappie and bream from my dock without donating my blood to mosquitoes or slapping at gnats to avoid their stinging bites. What a blessing? I never noticed before, but I do now. Life without social obligations can be a blessing! Living a less busy life is a blessing!

I have quit being bossed by a clock. No more appointments to remember. No more lunch dates. I am on God’s time! I go to bed when I want, and I wake up when I want! Sleeping late has never been a luxury I enjoyed before. But things have changed lately. I have a new wake up call. A bird in my yard has decided that I should not sleep past 7:30 a.m. He is such a beautiful bird, with his indigo blue feathers and his brightorange breast. He knows he is pretty. I can tell! I think he is obnoxious. He has discovered that he can get a hearty breakfast of insects by dive bombing into them as they rest on the picture window in my bedroom. Mr. Bluebird sits about 3 feet from my window on a shepherd’s crook, a hanging basket holder, watching and waiting, When the insects land on the glass, he zooms in and spears them with his beak! Then, his body crashes softly into the window, and he starts doing the back stroke with his wings as he puts himself in reverse in preparation for a forward lunge on another insect. I am now wide awake. Who could sleep through the sound of his beak hitting the glass and his body crashing into the window pane? After three attacks on insects he returns to his perch on the shepherd’s crook, and awaits his next victims. In just a few minutes, his second course of bugs appears on the windows, and the attacks begin again. Tap, thump, Tap thump goes my new wake up alarm! Thirty minutes of this every morning starting at 7:30 a.m. I am not seeing the blessing in this. And then I remember my mom waking me up on Saturday mornings saying, “Wake up sleepy head. You are going to sleep your life away.” I wondered and I pondered. I wondered if the blue bird would get so fat at the “all you can eat buffet” of insects offered on my window that perhaps he would not be able to fit in the tiny hole in his bird house. And then it hit me—The realization that the blue bird was a blessing. I just might have slept my life away in that bed if that blue bird had not awakened me! God, did you send that bluebird?

With love from a neighbor learning to count her blessings in “Elder Jail”


6 thoughts on “Musings from “Elder Jail”

  1. What a sweet essay! Once this pandemic is over, if you get to New Orleans between May and September, be sure to go watch the purple martins roost under the foot of the Causeway Bridge at sunset. There are thousands and thousands of them, and they do a synchronized “aerial ballet” before they settle in for the night. It is just majestic. Stay safe and well!

  2. To Ms.Judy and Ms. Eileen..maybe you friends could have coffee through the closed window. Not the same but a friendly face sure is nice. Soon enough you ladies can give big hugs and pass a good time together. Stay well.

  3. Thank you Judy for the positive perspective. I am riding my bike passed your house every day early in the morning with no one around. Hope we can have coffee as soon as possible. Please stay and positive as you always have been. EPK

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