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Bird Watching

The comforting call of a bobwhite quail assured her that her departed husband was still with her.

By Evelyn Smith, Lumberton, North Carolina

As appeared in

My husband caught me staring out our bedroom window one summer night. We’d been on our back porch listening to the bobwhite quails. Listening, but never able to see them. Don came up behind me. “I wish they would come out just once,” I said.

“They don’t dare,” Don said. “Not even the birdbath tempts them to risk a run-in with the neighbor cats.” I looked over at the bath. Don had put it in when he was healthy. Now he grew weaker as Lou Gehrig’s disease took its toll.

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I dreaded the day he would be gone where I could never see him–just like those bobwhites.

All too soon my fears came true. We’d been married 28 years when Don passed away. After the funeral, I sat alone on my bed. I wanted a sign. Lord, I just need to know he’s okay. Even if I couldn’t see him with my own eyes, wasn’t there some way I could know?

I glanced out the window. Something moved in the yard. Half a dozen bobwhites walked in a circle around our birdbath! I’d finally seen them. How could I doubt I’d see Don again one day too?

I lived in that house for another five years, and never saw a bobwhite quail again. But I heard their soothing call often. I could not see them but I knew they were near, just like Don.


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