He was five ounces of bravado, perched on my shoulder. He would have celebrated his 17th birthday (bird-day?) this year.
He loved humans, parties and wine. Red or white. Champagne, too. Wouldn’t touch hard liquor, though. He had his limits.
He hated crows. Tolerated cats with a hiss here and there if they got too close. Dodger always got too close.
He might have loved me best, but there were many close seconds. First and foremost, the CE. Phyllis. Our kids and grandkids. Pamela and Kirk, who endured years and years of Birdie’s antics, always with good humor. Chadd, Lauren, Bryson, Lori and Dan were very special friends. Dave and Karen. Grant and Julia. Andy and Alexandra – oh, how Birdie loved Andy! Birdie glommed on to Billy and Josh – I guess he liked men. Although he loved Katherine, too. Which might be a good time to bring up the fact that although Birdie was initially presented to us as a “he”, we were later apprised on good authority that Birdie may have been a she. No matter. Birdie was Birdie. Pint-sized imperiousness, running the entire household from his perch. The ultimate watchbird, peeping piercingly that a car was approaching well before the dogs ever pricked up their ears.
Birdie had so many close scrapes over the years. Our first dog, Peaches, couldn’t resist capturing him in her jaws. Fortunately, she was a Golden Retriever, soft-mouthed, and Birdie lived to tell the tale. He escaped once from Granny’s house and was miraculously rescued by a UPS driver who encountered the bird waddling furiously and awkwardly across the street in front of his truck. There were many Birdie tales to tell, including the time he inexplicably flew into our pool and I was thus required to leap in after him, fully clothed. Dripping wet, I rushed him to the vet, who pumped the water from his little air sacs (cockatiels don’t have lungs) and didn’t even charge me for the emergency visit. (Dr. Sellers, Cat & Bird Clinic)
I took Birdie in to see Dr. Sellers not too long ago. He seemed to be slowing down a bit. Arthritis, she said. But also, as a yellow Lutino, he was past his expiration date. “They die by age 15,” she said, implying that we needed to be ready for him to go at some point in the not-too-distant future.
Yet he seemed to have caught a second wind of late. He was bossing us around just like in the old days. But something went wrong. I wasn’t there when he needed me and I will never forgive myself. Birdie met a tragic end just a few days after Christmas.
When I brought Birdie home back in 1998, I had not done my homework. I thought he would live two or three years, like a parakeet. Little did I know that he would become our companion of a decade and a half, peeping incessantly for Cheerios, a bath in the sink, a shoulder ride, neck rub or a sip of wine.
He annoyed me to no end, and I miss him more than you can imagine. I know the world is full of far greater tragedies, but the loss of a pet is a keen misery I wish we all could be spared. My heart literally aches, every single day.
Thank you to all who embraced Birdie as your friend, many of you who cared for him in our absence over the years. Small but mighty, he will long live on in our memories. Rest in peace, dear little bird.