Collies, Crows and Cancer

By on April 1, 2013

2845_158346495231_5592337_nI posted this video on my facebook page a while back at the request of one of my cousins who knew of my dad’s way with animals. He had seen it before, and wanted to show it to someone else. I have watched the video many times, but the reason I like it so much is because Dad died 3 years ago, and I like remembering him doing things he loved, and hearing his voice.

After I posted it on facebook, I was surprised at the number of times it got shared by people I didn’t know. From the many comments made about the video, I learned that people were surprised and entertained to watch a crow and collie interact they way those two did. I thought I would share it here on MO))) with a bigger audience.

My father always had collies (and crows). If you know someone in Miramichi who has a collie, chances are it is an offspring from one my father owned. And more than a few times I remember my father bringing a young crow home. In the spring or early summer when crows leave the nest they fly poorly at first, making them easy to catch. If Dad came across one when he was fishing or gardening, he brought it home and fed it. They usually stayed around the whole summer and fall, becoming familiar enough to be hand-fed and making a nuisance of themselves by pulling at clothespins when my mother was hanging out laundry. They are intelligent and mischievous.

crowThe crow featured in this video stayed with us for two summers. jack became so accustomed and curious about people that he used to fly out and land on the road as people walked by. Some were terrified of him. Others grew used to him and kept on walking. Lyman Donovan used to walk a lot, and he became accustomed to Jack. The bird used to try to land on him while he was walking past our house. At first Lyman tried to shoo him, but eventually he gave in and starting wearing a hooded coat on his walks. The sight of Lyman Donovan walking past our house with a crow on his was one in a million.

April is Cancer awareness month. Dad died in March of 2010, one of about 77,000 Canadians that died from cancer that year. It started in his prostrate. Five years later it was in his esophagus, then his liver. Four weeks before he died he was able to plow snow and feed his chickens, but he didn’t feel well. Six months to live, they told him in February. But they lied.

A week after his final doctor’s appointment he could not get to bathroom by himself. We put a hospital bed in my mother’s living room, and we (the six kids) took turns staying overnight, sleeping on the couch so my mother could get some rest. In those final weeks it was impossible to imagine all the little things we would miss about our father. Impossible.

The year after Dad died my sister-in-law brought me a box of video tapes she wanted put on DVDs. Amid all the Christmas concerts and dance recitals of her children was this video of my father, the collie and the crow. I have a few other videos of my father at family dinners, as well as a brief glimpse of him walking my sister down the aisle at her wedding. But for me this video shows the quiet confidence my father had, the type that made people and animals put their faith and trust in him.

Cancer sucks.