I heard a very sad story from my friend Bob yesterday about “Quackers”, the Duck, Bob’s pet. “Quackers” lived happily for nine years at Bob’s home. He would stick his head out of the wires in his pen when he heard Bob or any other human nearby. “Quackers” was a social able duck and loved to be around people or Bob’s dogs, the cats, etc . Bob would leave him out and he had the run of the property most days.
Well when Bob went out to feed “Quackers” the other day, he was gone- vanished, empty cage. The door to his cage was still locked but the wires had been stretched apart and a gaping space remained. Bob figured that “Quackers” stuck his head out to see who was present and a fox or a coyote grabbed him by the head in its mouth and yanked him right out of his safe home. A week later, Bob found a pile of feathers on the hill behind his house.
Last September, after climbing Mount Katahdin with a group of combat vets and their leader, I decided to stick my neck out and take a drastic turn in my life. Put my personal dream of publishing a book about raising and educating my children on hold and dedicate all my time to this new cause. My wise-beyond-her-years daughter, sternly warned against it. I figured she was jealous of my new passion, stealing my time and energy away from her and my family.
But when she met my new partner in this endeavor in person, in October, she immediately did not like him. “He’s using you Mom. He’s going to take every advantage of what he can get from you for his program and then throw you away. He doesn’t care about YOU either. I can tell.” I did not listen. I trusted him and wanted to believe in his goodness and the positive work I could do.
It has always been my philosophy…that “if we take people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat them as if they were, as what they are capable of being, we make them become.”
Well, six months later, Sierra’s prediction came true and I am trying to pick up the pieces of my broken dream and hurt heart and move on.
I asked my husband last night what he thinks the moral of the “Quackers” the Duck story is. He replied, “Stay in the safety and security of your pen. Don’t stick your head out.” That would be the answer of a guarded, non-trusting Pennsylvania German. Stick to your safe secure universe where you know you can manage and control most things. Don’t take chances and certainly don’t whole-heartily trust people right off without first learning if they deserve your love and energy. Pennsylvania Germans take a long time to welcome people into their hearts and lives. Not just anyone wins their trust and love. Very few actually.
Well, that’s not how I live and even after this trauma and loss, I don’t know if I can embrace that philosophy. There is nothing wrong with adopting a little more caution in life, I suppose.
The Pennsylvania Germans have a saying, “We grow too soon old, and too late smart.” Maybe after thirty more years of living with a Pennsylvania Dutch man, I will become more non-trusting… or not, and remain like “Quackers” the Duck, sticking my neck out, taking a chance in life, believing in people and giving them the benefit of the doubt right off whether they have earned it or not. And, really, when you think of it, in 58 years, this is the very first time I have encountered this loss. “Quackers” the Duck lived nine happy years amongst friends. He saw every creature as his friend. Same same. In reality, through it all, I only lost a handful of feathers.