Friday, September 29, 2006

Looking At Deer Differently

Deer are vermin, right?

The suburban equivalent of rats.

That's how I looked at them. Just knowing that somewhere out there was a deer that would eventually come in contact with the front bumper of my Jeep. Always lurking by the side of the road, ready to strike.

Well no more. I've had a change of heart.

I remembered something.

My sister.

A little background here, for those of you who haven't been paying attention. My sister Kathy was thirteen years older than me. Our mother died when I was three and a half, and so her relationship with me was as much maternal as sisterly. Not that it was uncomplicated. She contended with a lot of pain in her life, and numbed that pain with alcohol. She would lash out, sometimes at me, and that really hurt. She had several stays in rehab, but it just didn't work. Until it did. Clean and sober, Kathy started to put her life back together. And there she was, owning a sweet little former one room school house in upper Bucks County, paying off some ancient bills, going back to school, finding outlets for her artistic talents and creativity.

And then she took a stress test as part of her routine checkup. And it went badly. It turned out shhe had Primary Pumonary Hypertension. It's a slowly debilitating illness, and short of a heart-lung transplant, there is no cure. So over the course of the next couple of years, she went down hill, the slightest exertion left her short of breath and weak. Until she passed away on July 14th, 1999. she passed away.

And deer play into this how?

Well you see, my sister and I are 1/16th Native American. And she considered herself something of a throwback, very in touch with that. And she once told me the story of how she found her spirit guide. One night in midsummer, she wanted to sleep outside. So she headed to nearby Ralph Stover State Park, left her car in the lot, hiked into the woods in the dark, and under a pine tree, the ground soft from needles, she lay down and went to sleep. She awoke in the first light of dawn, and found a doe standing over her. The doe gave a loud snort, and stomped her hoof. My sister and the doe looked into each others eyes. Then the doe slowly walked off into the woods. So my sister's spirit guide had made herself known.

It was a few weeks ago, driving home, when the thought passed through my mind. Y'see, I miss my sister so much. I would give anything to spend just one more day with her. Anything.

You probably see where this is going.

Now, when I'm driving home at dusk, like tonight, and there she is, standing by the edge of the road, a sleek (okay, pretty plump actually) young doe, still with a few white spots in her coat, so probably only six or seven months old at most.

I slow down, and call out, "Hi Kathy! Hi! I love you! I'm doing harm reduction work again! Remember when you visited me up at the place I worked in New York?"

Every time I see a deer, it's my sister checking in on me.

1 comment:

Teddy Pig said...

My moms sister was a Masters in Native American archeology. Among her many adventures she was adopted by a Hopi family and started to collect all these wonderful Kachinas and these small stones carved into animal shapes. Everything she explains is very family oriented so not only does she like the art but she has met and knows all the artists.

She gave me a small bear of all things, which I keep in my Leather jacket. It seems to like being there and no one has ever taken that jacket.

I find Native American spirituality very compelling. Like your writing.