One day recently while the kids and I were at the lake splashing around at the sandy beach area, we noticed a raggedy man wearing a backpack a little way down the beach throwing something repeatedly and with much force into the water. My 13 year old animal lover went down there to look and came racing back frantically telling me he was throwing baby ducks into the water with all the force he could muster, trying to kill them.
We all walked closer and I could see that she was right. He seemed intent on his task, and I'm guessing he had some mental health issues. Before I could stop her, my Adrienne went running to him shrieking for him to "STOP! STOP DOING THAT! What are you doing??? You're going to kill them!!!"
I called her back to me and told her to stay away from him. I felt like there was nothing we could do, so I turned my attention back to my little ones splashing around in the water.
When it was time to leave the beach for home, I called the children to me and I noticed that Adrienne was holding something in her arms.
She was carrying the ducks.
"Mama, we have to take them home! After the man left, the mother duck wouldn't take them back. She was chasing them away and pecking at them. We have to save them. They'll die if we leave them!" she begged.
I told her to put them down and that I thought they would be fine. As soon as she did, they both fell over, panting hard. I could see that they were injured and that she was desperate to help them.
"Fine," I said, "Pick them up and get in the van."
I remarked on the way home that I hoped at my funeral all the children would reminisce about the myriad of rabbits, naked baby mice, goats, kittens, and puppies I have allowed them to bamboozle me into bringing home.
The little ducks were so weak when we got them home they both immediately fell into a heap in the cage we prepared for them. I warned everyone that they would likely die overnight.
We looked up information about what kind of ducks they were (Egyptian Geese - a duck/goose hybrid) and what we should feed them, and miraculously they survived. They followed my girlie around like she was their mother, and we took them to the lake with us whenever we went.
They loved her. She loved them.
One day, we noticed one of the little guys didn't come running to Adrienne when she came outside. We searched around and finally found the little fella dead under the henhouse. There was no sign of trauma, so we never knew what happened.
The other goose, Sherman, continued to thrive and we still took him on field trips to the lake. He always stayed close on the heels of his Mama.
We kept saying we needed to return him for good one day, but none of us really wanted that day to come.
He was learning to fly and growing bigger and more beautiful every day. My girl loved him so.
We were all so terribly upset when we found him dead soon after the above photo was taken. He had been mauled by an animal. We never found out what killed him, but we surely mourned.
We buried him and remembered what a good goose he was.
"I'm glad I saved him," my girl remarked. "He had a good life with us."
Yes, he did.
"Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." Alfred Lord Tennyson