Flight Training

Chester, a down covered Canada goose was given to me shortly after he’d been rescued. We spent hours together weeding and watering the garden. We quickly became a study of each other’s grunts and coos. And like I had done with my children; I began to interpret what each one of his sounds meant. When we would lose sight of each other, he honked as if to holler, “Mom? Where are you?” and I’d answer him, “I’m over here,” and he’d run to me.

Each day Chester would follow me on the trail through the woods as I took my morning walk. My neighbor would wave to me and call out, “Well, well, there goes Mother Goose.”

The question was asked by many, “When will he fly?” As a concerned ‘mother’, I began to worry that his wings would not develop strong enough to carry his increasing body weight. The next morning on our daily walk, I slowly increased my pace. Chester stretched out his wings and ran behind me. Increasing to a jog, my heart almost broke when running as fast as he could he called out, “Gook, goooook,” as if to say, “Wait, mom, why are you doing this?” I continued to jog just out of his reach, until he finally extended his wings taking his first flight.

I was so excited, I almost fell into a blackberry bush cheering and applauding him! Just to let me know it was his idea and not mine, he flew over just low enough to give me a good thunk on the back of my head with one of his wings

Chester’s flying was the beginning of his arrival into young adulthood. Like most teens announcing their arrival and thinking the world revolved around him, he began to let me know his schedule was the most important.

He no longer cooed at me, but hollered as if he was angry. Loving him as only a mother could, I allowed his annoying efforts toward independence, but worried no one would survive his “coming of age.”

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (NIV)

“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.”

Although I hadn’t felt he was ready to be independent, I reluctantly agreed to set him free into the wilderness. We drove to a near-by pond we knew Canada Geese habitually gather. Once in the water, he attempted to socialize, only to be run off by males guarding females on nests. He returned to me on the side of the pond. Convinced I was keeping him from adjusting, I left.

As we turned onto the highway, I heard a familiar “gook, gooook” overhead. It was Chester with his “wait for me” honk. He was following us. Untrained for this, his wings were not strong enough to sustain the 6-mile flight home. Needing rest, he landed in the middle of the highway and called me.

I yelled at my husband, “Stop! He’s going to get hit!” Pulling to the side of the road, I leaped out and desperately called to him. He saw me and took to the air. He was hit broadside by a car.

Instantly, it looked like a feather bed exploding. I dropped to my knees sobbing, “I killed him! He trusted me, and I killed him!”

My husband gathered him up and sadly asked, “What do you want to do with him?” In shock, Chester was alive but bleeding profusely from a chest wound and his leg was broken in several places. Chester laid his head on my chest, his quiet noises mixing with my sobs.

As we reached home, knowing the end was near, I called the vet, and was told there was nothing that could be done for him and should consider putting him out of his misery. Tears ran down my cheeks and I apologized over and over. I held him on my lap in his pen for two days attempting to nurse him back to health.

There is a happy ending . . . , Chester pulled through that day. He walked with a limp and ruled the yard for 24 more years.

Through my goose experiences, I learned valuable lessons. In a world that moves our children from infants to adulthood in record time, I learned to trust my instincts. I no longer allow others that don’t spend as much time with my children to dictate what and when is best for them.

Today’s children are making decisions that have potentially life-threatening consequences before they’ve even learned to manage their acne. Life readiness arrives on individual perfectly timed body clocks that get out of sync when they are speeded up or slowed down. As the flight-trainer, one of our many jobs is to determine when our children are ready for flight. You too, must become the best flight trainer possible to set your children’s wings to flight.

*This story and others like it can be found in For the Love of Pets!