It is no coincidence that doves wake me each morning with their soft cooing right outside our bedroom window. They gather to feast on a generous supply of bird seed in the feeder at our house. It is part of the “arrangement” we have had for years. They coo and get fed and in return they help me remember a long ago time and place.

Doves used to wake me up at my grandparents’ old farm house. They nested in the row of majestic pines right outside my bedroom window. I loved to hear their gentle stirrings as my younger self emerged from sleep. Whatever else was going on in our world at the moment, those doves always sounded peaceful and hopeful.

The small corner bedroom I inherited came with a lot of family history. It had been the bedroom of my beloved great-grandmother, Mama Harper. It was there that my grandmother discovered her one morning in July of ‘59, paralyzed by a massive stroke. Mama Harper refused medical treatment and died in that room two days later.

My father, Jim, already gravely ill, was the next occupant. He relinquished it when he went to the hospital for the final time in October of that same year.

That room and its memories of my loved ones was very important to me as I was growing up.

Time marches on, things change. The room, the pines, the farm – lost in history.

But with the help of my feathered friends I have recreated a little sense of connectedness with Mama Harper and my father and the other family and friends who inhabited that time and place.

Every morning the cooing helps me remember the good times we had and the funny stories we retell over and over. I remember that as a family we persevered through the sickness and the death of our loved ones. I am reminded to honor their memories and the lessons of their lives in my own daily choices. I am prompted to thank God for the gift they were in my life.

Perhaps you, too, have little reminders of family or friends that keep their memory alive in your heart. Maybe it’s a physical item or a well-worn catch-phrase or a song or a place. If so, I hope those little reminders warm your heart as does my wake-up call which touches mine.