Many years ago my Grandmother rescued a fledgling magpie from the base of a tree, on inspection she discovered that the tiny bird had a broken wing, thus he would never fly. I remember Joey Magpie well for in spite of his obvious handicap Joey was a very 'happy' bird, at least he seemed happy, though just how it is possible to measure the happiness of a bird is hard to tell.
Every dawn Joey Magpie would warble the beautiful magpie chorus along with the all the other magpies in the area. He had a keen eye for the insects and worms as he went about his daily task of enjoying his food. Because of Joey Magpie could not fly, he did learn to do other things. Joey Magpie learnt to climb, with the help of my uncle who put climbing structures around my Grandmother's yard; Joey Magpie could at least for a while feel the wind in his face.
Joey only ever learnt to climb up, so for a while it meant some one had to rescue him when he wanted to get down. Then one day Joey simply launched himself and clumsily fluttered back down to earth. The landings were never elegant, but they served Joey Magpie well. Joey Magpie just went about his daily tasks as if he knew he did have a very important life to live.
Joey Magpie never quite understood the full concept of being a bird. He could be found curled up sleeping with the cat, or walking with the dog. He could climb up to the kitchen sink to help prepare the meals or make a cup of tea. One of my most favorite memories of Joey Magpie was seeing him hold the tea strainer over the cup whilst my Grandmother poured the hot tea, first into her cup, then into a saucer for his cup of tea.
It would be safe to say that Joey Magpie was very much a social bird, who thoroughly enjoyed his life and never once accepted that he had a handicap. Joey Magpie also had another talent that caused a few concerns but it also endeared him to those who got to know him. Joey Magpie learnt to be a very good mimic of sounds. The milkman had a particular cough, which the bird could replicate easily. Joey Magpie could sneeze as my Grandmother did. There was also a sound that was almost the same as a new kitten.
My Grandmother lived close by a busy railway yard. Back then the goods trains were a regular part of the day. There were a large number of people employed in the yard, from the Station Master down to yard hands.
Goods trains would come in, there would be a lot of shunting to remove rail trucks, or add railway trucks. This meant a lot of signals that were whistled by the porters to the train driver.
As I have already told you, Joey Magpie was a good mimic. After a short period Joey Magpie learnt the various sounds and signals of the railway yard. At first Joey Magpie was happy to just be a part of the busy day in the railway yard.
Then one day it happened. The train driver heard the 'all clear' whistle, given the amount of time the train had been in the station, the train driver simply started to leave the yard.
Only problem was the train had not been resembled. It was not the porter who had signaled all clear it was Joey Magpie.
Fortunately the driver realized that his load was a lot easier to move than it should be, so he was able to pull up easily. He looked out the train window to see a lot of the railway yard running after the train.
My Grandmother was summoned to the Railway Station. The Station Master was very angry, as was the train driver, and also the train guard. The senior porter understood the situation and how important Joey Magpie was to all that knew him.
So it was agreed that day by all that train drivers should not just listen for the whistle, but check for the semaphore flags. My Grandmother agreed to when possible keep Joey Magpie in the house when trains were being shunted, as she did understand just how dangerous it was to have Joey Magpie whistling signals in the rail yard.
But no one ever said that Joey Magpie could not return to the rail yard, as he was such an important part of the life of all he touched with his happy disposition and willingness to just be a part of everything in his life.
Joey Magpie lived for just over 5 years, until one of his elegant crash landings did not go as it should, and sadly Joey Magpie spilt open his chest. Even then he did fight back, but sadly lost the fight to live.
Back to my opening question, are you a good Joey Magpie?
No one ever told Joey Magpie that he was handicapped or that he should be miserable with his lot in life. He just lived his short life at full capacity. Joey Magpie learnt all that he could learn, he challenged himself every day to do more, achieve more and be more. And because of his very evident courage, people responded to him with love and encouragement.
I ask that you look at yourself, look inside and see if you really are being the best Joey Magpie you can be singing your own beautiful life chorus every day? Or are you still sitting at the base of the tree with a broken wing, waiting, resenting, and watching your life pass you by?
With my sincere thanks to Rosemary from South Australia for allowing me to publish her wonderful story.
About Rosemary - In 1972 Eddison Lighthouse released Love Grows where Rosemary goes. Every day I do my very best to bring those words into reality. My personal belief is that love is the only medicine that can cure any pain, ease any burden, and create pathways. My life is about change, challenge, attempts and achievement, not just for myself, but for every one who lives within my heart. If you are reading these words, then you are also in my heart.