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Birds with Amazing Grace


From the Resident’s Quill.

Our residents are a talented bunch – among the sportsmen, the quilters, the woodworkers, the photographers and the poets are talented writers. Over the next few weeks we will be sharing some of our resident’s stories.

By Bill Withers, Murdoch village.

There are times when any reader will wonder if a story-teller has coloured the story and fudged the truth. This is such a story which amazed the credible witnesses. When this beautiful event occurred, it was on Thursday afternoon, 27th November 2014 at the Alzheimer’s Australia (WA), Mary Chester Centre at Shenton Park, Western Australia. The meeting room was adjoined, outside, by a large aviary of Budgerigars, commonly known as ‘lovebirds’, who became the star performers in this story.

The Friends in Harmony Choir had assembled with their Conductor, Dorothy Ebel, who had led the choir through the first number. The choir started to sing the second number, ‘Amazing Grace’, when the singers were joined by a chorus of lovebirds from the aviary.

At first there were exchanges of smiles, between the choristers, but the volume of sound from the aviary was intense. The birds sang as if their little hearts would burst. The birds stopped singing when the choristers stopped.

The birds didn’t seem to be interested in other songs but they re-joined the choir, again, during the rendition of three love-songs.

On the following Sunday, 1st December, the author drove into his garage, thinking about the love-bird’s performance. He started to whistle ‘Amazing Grace’, without conscious thought, until he was joined by a nesting Black Honeyeater in the rear courtyard. Black Honeyeaters are from arid regions so the breeding pair were “foreign” visitors to the courtyard in Como. They had been reported to the West Australian Department of Wild Life.

Similar to the Shenton Park lovebird’s performance, the little Black Honeyeater stopped singing when the whistling stopped. The author rushed inside to get his wife, Judy, who was experiencing Dementia/Alzheimer’s. He wanted Judy to hear the second ‘Amazing Grace’ performance.

Whilst walking into the garage, he thought, “I’m going to look a proper dill if our little honey eater doesn’t perform”. He started whistling and, joy of joys, she did perform. Judy said, “That’s amazing”, but the author couldn’t reply because there was an emotional blocking of the vocal chords…… well, that’s his excuse.

You can read more of our resident’s stories in the latest edition of Thrive here.