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Tuesday, 28 May 2013


Edith Griffin with her great-nephew, Dr Karl Shuker, aged 7 months (Dr Karl Shuker)

Until now, my Eclectarium has remained closed throughout the present year, and this is why. Quite simply, 2013 has been the worst year of my life. It began with the deterioration in health of my dear mother, Mary Doreen Shuker, and continued with her passing away on Easter Monday, aged 92. She was my only family and the best person I shall ever know, and I shall miss her more than I can ever hope to convey in words every day for the rest of my life. I know that my mother took immense pride in my writings, so I am re-opening the Eclectarium today with a post that not only features her but is also dedicated to her. Thank you, little Mom, for your love, support, and faith in me throughout your life – may I be worthy of you throughout the remainder of mine. This is for you, Mom, with all my love, always.

According to traditional English folk-belief, birds will come to tell a person when a relative is about to die. However, not everyone is convinced that it is just folklore. The following remarkable incident involved members of my own family.

During the late 1960s, Miss Edith Griffin, my very elderly great-aunt, suffered a severe stroke from which there was no hope of recovery. Each day, her niece, my mother Mary Shuker, visited her at her home, which she shared with my maternal grandparents (one of whom was her younger sister Mrs Gertrude Timmins, whose recollection of a shower of frog rain can be accessed here on my ShukerNature blog).

My grandmother, Gertrude Timmins (1894-1994), with my Jack Russell terrier, Patch (Dr Karl Shuker)

Back at our own house one night, after having spent the day with my great-aunt, my mother was unable to sleep, and lay awake in bed for some time. Suddenly, she heard a bird land on her windowsill and begin chirping loudly, even though it was now approximately 2 am the next morning and totally dark outside.

This continued for quite a time before the bird eventually flew away, leaving my mother feeling very ill at ease by this strange, unexpected visitation. So much so, in fact, that she called in at my grandmother's house just a few hours later, earlier than normal - where she learnt that my great-aunt had passed away, at around 2 am that morning.

Just a coincidence?

My mother, Mary Doreen Shuker (1921-2013), visiting the Royal Palaces in Bangkok, Thailand, with me during 2005 (Dr Karl Shuker)

UPDATE - 13 December 2013

Today I received an email from an American friend containing details of an extraordinary event from his own life that so closely mirrors the incident featuring my mother and my great-aunt described by me above that I am including it here as follows. Because of its very personal nature, however, I am not publicly releasing any details concerning my friend's identity, but I have retained them on file.

"On the day my mother passed away she had been in Hospice care for three days although she was not expected to make for 48 hours. Our whole family had come to her bedside on that first day. We had a family prayer time, my uncle Derrell (mom's youngest brother) an ordained Baptist minister led the prayer. After the first day it was my sister and brother-in-law and my wife and myself that took turns spending the night those last three nights. I returned home that morning after spending the night there and was trying to unwind a little before returning. I had just sat down in our living room when a small wren flew up under our porch and landed momentarily on the screen of our front window looking in at me. The minute after it flew away I received a phone call from my sister telling me mom had just passed away. I believe to this day that was a sign from heaven."

And perhaps it was.  In the words of the much-loved hymn composed by William Cowper:

God moves in a mysterious way
His wonders to perform;
He plans His footsteps in the sea,
and rides upon the storm.



  1. I'm glad you've found your way back Karl...I think she'd be pleased....did a bird visit at the time of your mom's passing?

  2. Thanks Meg, but I don't think I'll ever be back - I'm somewhere different now, somewhere that I have to become accustomed to inhabiting, now and in the future. 'Back' is in the past, so I can only return there in dreams, where for just a brief time I'm with my mother again, and life is as it was, but as it can never be any more during my waking life.
    Mom passed away in hospital, in a ward with no windows anywhere near, so no, a bird did not visit, but didn't need to anyway, as I was with her right to the very end, talking to her, holding her hand, stroking her hair and brow, because although she was unconscious, the senses of hearing and touch are the last to go, so I was assured that she would hear my voice and feel my hand. It meant that she was not alone, not even at the very end, and for that blessing I am truly grateful to God.

  3. not anonymous; hi, I just found your amazingly extensive online works last night during a search for any references to the Thunderbird.( a short but frustrating search so far.)
    I have hyperlexia which allows me to rapidly triage webpages and authors, but you caught my attention with the entries re your "little mom" & I remain distracted by them & am driven to comment!
    as lucky as you feel to have had her as a mother, so did she feel lucky to have had you for her son. to know that upon googling her name you found only references that combined your name with hers would have delighted her not disappointed! I think she always knew that she was here for a special reason; to bring you here. in a sea of tricksters, profiteers & schizophrenics you offer a lighthouse beacon of sanity to those who are searching for answers. priceless!
    us moms, we know these things; I have known since I was a child that I was here to bring my 11 children here. i'm sure your mother left this world content that she had not only done what she came here to do but obviously, she did it well! (something I struggle with. daily)
    please forgive my unsolicited interruption, I just had to write you before I could return to my thunderbird thing.
    - christine

  4. I wish I could say something more than sorry.

  5. @Christine ( - thank you so much for your kind words, which I very greatly appreciate. Mom was such a special, central part of my world - my rock upon which I built my life, and without her I am so lost and alone, with no other family to support me through this most difficult, traumatic time in my life. I know that she was very proud of my writings, and I am truly grateful that I was able to achieve success for her, making her happy. I just wish she were still here today, to guide and inspire me as only a loving mother can.

  6. Thank you also for your positive comments re my blogs, which I hope that you continue to enjoy. If you can obtain a copy of my current;y out-of-print book In Search of Prehistoric Survivors, there is a lengthy section in it on the subject of thunderbirds that may interest and be of use to you.

  7. My condolences on the passing of your beloved Mother; as a Mom myself, I'm sure that you made her very happy.

    And thank you so much for your continued contributions to the scientific world and for making your work accessible to the public. I've enjoyed many hours of your writing.
    Yours, D.S., Waco, TX, USA

  8. Thank you so much for your kind words, which I greatly appreciate, especially tonight, when they arrived at a time when I was at a very low ebb, so they helped to lift my spirits. I've very happy that my writing has brought you so much enjoyment - to continue doing so for you and for other readers seems to be the only purpose that I have in life now, but it is a good one, and one that my mother also always believed was for me. Very best wishes, Karl