The story of Jaquimo is kind of an old story. My eldest , Tara was about 11 years old. We were living in New York and I was home educating my three oldest children. The exciting thing about home-schooling is that parents are often learning right along with their children. We could all share in the excitement of discovering things together. One of the challenges of home-schooling was trying to make it more hands on and allowing everyday life to teach us. So although we had a lot of books, we often took the classroom outside and I often looked for any opportunities that life threw are way that we could learn from. Enter Jaquimo………..
Jaquimo was the name Tara gave to a baby bird that we found lying on the ground outside our front door. It was alive but chirping sadly. We looked up and saw the nest we figured it fell from. The bird was then placed back in the nest only to be thrown out again and then placed back into the nest and then thrown out a third time by mama bird. Now of course, me not knowing anything about nature and why mama bird would have done such a thing thought maybe she just took a disliking to her own little bird. My heart went out to this bird. My children’s hearts also went out to this poor little bird. Tara’s heart went out even more and begged me to let her nurse it back to health. I hesitated. The bird was sad-looking. In fact to be honest, it was kind of ugly. Ever seen a baby bird? They’re kind of all beak which opens extremely wide, a bit of down and no feathers. I suspect Jaquimo was probably uglier than most baby birds for a reason. I had no idea what kind of bird this was and wasn’t sure if it would make it. I then remembered that this was probably one of those teachable moments that I am always hoping would come our way so I agreed. Someone gave me the advice that baby birds could eat was formerly known as pablum, the instant cereal you give to infants. So using an infant baby spoon, Tara proceeded to feed Jaquimo some spoonful’s of baby cereal. She also gave Jaquimo water using a medicine dropper.
Jaquimo was hungry. In fact Jaquimo’s appetite was similar to that of a human infant because Jaquimo wanted to be fed….every two hours. Tara kept the bird in an open shoe box in her room. During the night, Jaquimo cried for food and water….every two hours. After a few days, Tara was exhausted. She barely slept and she was getting a bit fed up. Jaquimo was beginning to look a bit better and was hopping about in the box which was a good sign. After a few more days, Tara was so tired and frayed at the edges that she was in tears. I was beginning to feel this had all been a bad idea. She was only 11 and much too young to be a mother. However, I hoped that with Jaquimo’s strength building up, he will soon cease feeding every two hours and be on a more moderate schedule.
Then one morning, Tara woke up with a surprise start. She woke up refreshed after having slept the entire night without being woken up. She went to the shoe box only to find that the little bird was not moving. That was when I was woken up by my distraught daughter in tears. Jaquimo was no more.
I assured Tara she did the best she could. In fact she did the very best for Jaquimo but perhaps mama bird had thrown Jaquimo out of the nest for a reason. Maybe she knew he was sickly and was never going to make it. I told Tara she had at least made his last few days of life comfortable ones.
We all mourned Jaquimo. We had all loved him. However, this was the first death my children ever experienced; sadder that Tara had experienced it one step further…because in a way, she experienced losing her child.
We had a funeral in our own back garden. During the service, my daughter Brittany (age 7) said, “Wait!” and ran inside the house. She came outside with the medicine dropper and a glass of water. Tara was shocked and upset seeing her with that as she didn’t know why she brought it out. Brittany just calmly and serenely dipped the medicine dropper in the water and then sprinkled water on the grave. We all mourn and cope in different ways. Performing that little ritual was Brittany’s way.
The story of Jaquimo is the story about the love for a pet. It’s the story about nursing someone who is sick. It’s the story of dealing with loss. It’s the story about how we often get drained by someone we love. It’s a story of a mother’s love….which of course is the story of unconditional love.
The story of Jaquimo is kind of an old one; however it is an ancient one too.