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Open Translation
For a decade, Great Blue Herons had a special meaning for Jim and Judi. It became their mascot. But Jim had no hint this meaning would one day acquire an even deeper significance.
The couple enjoyed watching the long-legged shorebirds from the deck of their summer cottage feed every day in a cove 200 feet away.
Thus, it was fitting to commission a watercolor of a pair of nesting blue heron to celebrate their 30th wedding anniversary.
Then time slipped by; 30 years edged toward 35. Their prized painting hadn’t been framed. One day, Jim snuck the painting out and got it done. On the night of their 35th anniversary, there was the framed painting above their bed, where Jim had just finished hanging it.
Three years later, Judi lost a battle with cancer. And Jim was, well, lost, too.
At Judi’s memorial, a dear friend led the service. Eva wanted to help the young children among the mourners to comprehend what had happened.
Eva told this story:
"Once upon a time, a happy group of tiny bugs were playing on the bottom of a lily pond. One by one, the bugs climbed up a lily stem and disappeared. Those left behind wondered what had happened to their friends. Then they agreed the next bug to venture beyond the surface of the pond would return and tell the others what they’d experienced.
"One day, a bug left and found itself on a lily pad. It fell asleep. When it awoke, the warm sunshine had dried its body. Instinctively, it spread the wings it had grown while asleep and began flying away. It had become a beautiful dragonfly with four resplendent wings. Then it remembered the promise. It swooped back toward the surface of the pond and headed downward. The dragonfly hit the surface and could go no farther. It was not able to return. Finally, it realized the others would just need to have faith that it was going to be all right."
Before she died, Judi asked Jim for two promises: live a healthy lifestyle and find someone to spend the rest of his life with. The first was easy. The second left no doubt about the loving person Judi had been. Jim struggled with that promise for three years. Then he met Sharolie.
Soon, it was clear Sharolie was extraordinary, like Judi. She understood Jim’s still-raw grief. And like Judi, Sharolie was blessed with a generous nature.
One day, Sharolie’s spirituality drew her to visit a yoga ashram near Jim’s place on the lake. Jim went along, out of curiosity and to be with her. After all, they were still in the euphoria of newfound love.
Jim and Sharolie arrived at the picturesque ashram on a sunny day. They parked and followed a narrow winding path through a grove of trees, over a footbridge and across lawns toward their destination . . . a temple, focus of the ashram.
Suddenly, a large shadow crossed their path. They heard a rush of wings overhead. Both looked up. A Great Blue Heron had swept low over them, then folded its six-foot wings and landed 75 feet away in a garden. A few steps beyond it, people were tilling the garden. The big majestic blue heron took no notice of them, unusual behavior for the famously shy bird.
The experience left Sharolie and Jim in awe. Stunned, they found themselves exchanging looks with the blue heron.Full of questions, they continued on to the temple. Half an hour passed while they enjoyed the temple’s extraordinary acoustics and ambiance. Then it was time to go.
The couple emerged from the ground-level main entrance to another surprise. A blue heron was standing in the middle of a 30-foot circular lily pond, centerpiece of the main entrance. Like the earlier one, it was staring right at them, calmly and unblinking. Was it the same one they’d seen earlier? Jim and Sharolie were sure it was. If the first encounter was unusual, this one had to be exceptional. More was to come.
Enthralled, the couple watched the stately blue-gray bird, unwilling to break the spell. Numerous other visitors walked by looking over their shoulders at the rare sight. The blue heron paid no attention. Unblinking, it kept returning Sharolie and Jim’s amazed gazes.
“It's a message,” Sharolie whispered. “It has to be from Judi. The heron is bringing a message from her. I just know it.”
Eventually, they left the lily pond, glancing back. The blue heron was still watching. They took a secondary walk behind the temple, to a cliff overlooking a mountain lake. Both were unable to wrest their minds from the lily pond. They headed back.
“I wonder,” Jim said. “Do you think it’s still there?”
Sure enough, the blue heron again returned their gazes.
Jim and Sharolie reluctantly returned to their car, wondering how long the blue heron might have remained there had they stayed.
“Yes, I’m sure,” Sharolie said. “Judi was sending you a message, sending us a message, telling you it’s okay now, that she’s going to be okay now.”
They didn’t know the blue heron episodes would be only part of their love story.
would be only part of their love story.
After Jim and Sharolie met, he wanted his children to know he'd found someone Judi would endorse. Kim met Sharolie first. She invited them to a baseball game.
A hour later they were watching the game. Suddenly, two enormous dragonflies swept around Sharolie and settled on her hat.
“Oh, my God!” Kim screamed. “Look at that! Look! Dragonflies! Two of them! Oh my God! You know what that means, don’t you?”
For her, Eva’s parable had come true. Thereafter, Kim has believed those dragonflies were on a mission of approval from her late Mother.
Since then, Jim and Sharolie have experienced hovering dragonflies often. And they’ve seen blue herons many times. Like the dragonflies, these encounters were often in unexpected circumstances.
“Checking up,” Sharolie will say with a confident smile. “She’s just checking up.”
*
Copyright 2017 by James Osborne. All Rights Reserve
Story Type: fact

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