In Memoriam: Don Bird
In loving memory
DONALD MARTIN BIRD
Born March 11, 1951
Raised in Queens, New York
United States Marine Corps
Arrived Lake Shrine 1976
served in five decades
Found joy and creative expression
in carpentry and all building crafts
He was an intense force of nature
and laughing twinkle of charm
Left the body November 29, 2011
San Luis Obispo, California
His joy and vibrancy will be missed.
Don gave me a blessing. He allowed me to walk with him to the edge and look off and what he shared was beautiful. He said, “the body’s getting better or I’m going Home.” It was a brave statement, and though swept by waves of disappointment, he was resolute.
His body weakened, but, he was calm, trusting.
You can’t cram for the test he faced. He bit off a big bite, and was chewing it. A ward nurse’s face lit when asked his location, “Ooh, the lovely man in room 1208.” Despite circumstances, he chose to scatter joy.
Mandy and Don radiated belief and commitment; facts didn’t move them off the recognition that this very moment; each very moment was real and to be embraced. Mandy used the Costa Rican saying,‘Pura Vida’, to describe their bond: this present moment, this now, intense, complete, full.
Their bond was without pretense; they didn’t compromise their realness; It couldn’t be anticipated and it didn’t wither under the burden of his weakening body. Don basked in Mandy’s Love, but it wasn’t a cakewalk.
The motto of the Marine Corps, in which Don served is, ‘Semper Fidelis”:
Always Faithful, Always Loyal. Don was Gung Ho in service to his Guru, friends,
work and willingness to think of others. He had a bone crushing grip and a
We had to hoof it to stay with him as he pushed his IV tripod outside. He’d get nauseous. He had to cope with the body, but still enjoyed that moment outside in the Sun with friends. He didn’t burden others with its plight. He showed humor, thoughtfulness and guts.
Don was sitting on his bed, soles of his feet together, hunching forward and talking about a ‘rough childhood’. He was without rancor, in thoughtful, amazed remembrance. He was combing for overlooked meaning; even in the brutality and pain he’d passed through; though he drolly commented, “This isn’t that great a place.”
He knew he was headed home, but he wasn’t shut off from life; he brought
it in with him, transforming that bed, room and that ward; it was gorgeous.
We’d gone out to the beach, Don, Mandy, Kim, Dave W. & I. There wasn’t much cushion on his bones at that point and he felt the jarring of the road. I was on the bunk next to him to help keep him from rolling out. His hand probed above his blanket for what I thought was a better grip, but he found my hand instead. It was connectedness of shared touch and friendship he reached for and shared in turn.
Mandy gave him that outing, situating her camper on the bluff above the beach and he watched the November swell out of the Pacific roll into the bay at Montana de Oro. He enjoyed that time and the simplicity of friends, ocean and sky.
At Hospice, Dave W and I were sitting with him when he said he’d go for a popsicle; one of those Mexican jobs with fruit in them, preferably Mango. I came back with around eighteen for his inspection. One by one he went through them, saying, “Nope, Nope”, tossing the unwanted aside until he came to a multi-layer, multi-color, multi-flavored structure in ice, and said “this, is it”, attacking it with relish and exclamation. We were just some guys hanging out; But he tired, withdrew and he said,“You guys have to go.”
Before he passed I asked if he wanted another pop cycle or anything else? He replied, “That thing about killed me!” He had humor, and his transition wasn’t the weird, hush-hush, don’t say that, tell me I’m getting better charade. It was a chance to spend time with a friend and enjoy the radiance that filled the room. Yeah, he wasn’t going to be around in the body, but that didn’t mean we shouldn’t enjoy that time. His attitude and receptivity made the difference.
The other side seemed less distant than the thickness of a porous onionskin
that doesn’t block the flow of friendship, love and or well wishes.
We share more than we dream; small distinctions lose their luster as the edge
draws near. I treasure his genuine, unvarnished gift of ‘showing up’.
Dave W and I were headed out and were surprised by Mandy thanking us. Dave immediately voiced what we both felt, “This was our privilege.” We came away feeling washed by a sea of energy.
It’s a measure of Don’s character that he sought to make it better for others, even as he struggled. He’d shared a glimpse of the Beauty beyond the partition of space. This wasn’t about loss, sorrow or sympathy. He shared the moments he had, as they were. Those moments were expansive and touched on the unspoken. He Trusted; He was Receptive; He was Surrendering and knew he was Loved
And he was ‘Faithful’.
January 14, 2012
By Mandy Davis
Looking into glassy
the reflection is
one of miracles
towering autumn sentinels
azure bright skies
cracks spreading web-like
on life’s infinite
Grandmother Ocean’s caress
in loon’s lullabies
soothing frayed synapses
liquid mercury wakes
and round heads
within the web
shimmering and awesome
thrumming life’s songs
ethereal and earthy
inviting the dance
joyous and ecstatic
to movement’s miracle
The breath of
surrounds and envelopes
peace for the asking
it is not
nor is it
the miracle encompasses
Don’t be afraid
of letting go
illusions can blind
the veil is thin
pull it aside
take the vision
to your heart
live the miracle
for a miracle
when it is in
appreciation and experience
a magnificent world
The miracle is here
The miracle is now