The three crows
Type of spiritual experience
A description of the experience
The Art of Dying – Drs Peter and Elizabeth Fenwick
My father was gravely ill, and died in a small hospital in the village of Rustington from an enlarged heart disorder on 20 July 1999. My mother, sister and I moved in to stay in his room in the last week. During that time three big black crows continually walked around the grounds outside his window, moving away and then coming back, but pretty much always in view.
Ever since my father retired from business and moved out of London he enjoyed watching birds and reading about them, so we told him they were there, but unfortunately his bed was positioned against the window and he did not see them. A few days later when he became unconscious I asked the nurses to move him to a private room out of respect for his dignity. We stayed and slept in that room with my father for three further nights, singing to him through the night and holding his hand and speaking to him, although he was not conscious.
During this time I spoke to my sister telling her that some rough boys from a neighbouring school were scouting around looking for my son as they considered his old school as rivals to theirs. I told her that although I believed they would just give up and not find my son as he was now at college, I was concerned, feeling protective.
The three crows had followed us to this side and stayed outside in the grounds beneath his window, the whole hospital being on one floor. At 4 a.m. or thereabouts my father died, and later in the morning my sister and mother left. I stayed, reluctant to leave him to strangers, but also to keep vigil over his body, which I discovered I could keep warm by holding his arm and generating warmth to that area. I stayed for about four or five hours. I did not see the crows again, at this point.
I live in Brighton, and my son who was then at A-level college, had been called and knew the gravity of his grandfather's situation, and so waited at home in support and respect instead of going to his part-time job. When I arrived home sometime in the afternoon, my son told me that something odd had happened –not inferring that it had any significance to his grandfather's death.
He said that during the last two days a huge black crow had appeared in the back garden, sitting on the railing outside, and that our Abyssinian cat, who is a warrior breed attacking anything in his territory, came indoors and would not go outside, and he said that all the neighbourhood cats did the same. He said the crow just sat there for two days, and although he thought it was funny it was quite unnerving as well. And then in the morning, hours after my father's death, the crow tried to come through the catflap.
I have never heard of a bird of this size behaving like that and actually forcing itself into an occupied place before. I suppose I felt as if my father had sent an emissary to my son to watch over him. I think he had heard my conversation with my sister, as I have since found out that the unconscious have unimpaired, hearing.
My father was a Russian Polish Jew and so fiercely protective and family orientated; to hear that his eldest grandson was in any danger would have made a huge impact on him as he always protected the whole family not only financially but also physically. I thought that it was as though the minute he died, he came to my son in any way he could - as if my father had been so frustrated that he couldn't be there.
The source of the experience
Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image
Observation contributed by: Neffy Limb