June 7, 2011

Robin's Story

Robin told of witnessing the first flight of a young galah in her back yard. The galah was shepherded by its parents to a safe shelter in the fork of a tree for the night. There was much calling and ado to make sure things were alright. During the night there was a great commotion coming from the tree…a possum was calling out in distress and the young galah was matching its din. The distress calls persisted so Robin went out to investigate. The young galah had taken shelter in the possum’s haunt and the galah’s response to being confronted by the possum was to grab its nose in its beak. There was the possum shrieking in pain and the galah holding on for dear life …too young or scared to know when to let go. The noise continued into the night.

In the morning the young galah lay dead on the ground. Robin picked up the dead bird and buried it under some composting leaves and cuttings. The parents came to the tree shelter and called for their young offspring… with no reply they became distressed and called more frantically. After a while they flew off to a nearby tree, then back again and carried on with their calling with increasing distress. This behaviour went on for a couple of days.

Gradually Robin realised she had an empathy with the parents because she understood that they, like herself, were feeling distress, turning to grief, with no way of resolving the problem. Robin had carried a grief for her whole life. She had never known her father, her only contact being for a few weeks when she was three. Her father joined the Australian Air Force during world war 2 and was assigned to fly in England before Robin was born. He came back to Australia three years later for a few weeks before being assigned to fly in New Guinea where he was killed in action. There was no closure for Robin growing up and never knowing her father, and she carried this grief throughout her life. Seeing the birds’ distress she realised that she had to give them closure. She retrieved the body of the young galah from the compost and placed it nearby on the grass. The mother bird flew down and inspected the dead bird and tried to rouse it. When sherealised there was no life she called to her mate and they flew off together, not to return.

Robin was left feeling her own relief in that she had also found some deeper understanding of or resolution for her own lack of closure.

Recorded by David Kerr from a phone call with Robin from the south coast ( south of Adelaide)

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