Thursday, May 25, 2006

Ode to a Little Bird

This morning, I woke up to find the cage for my children's pet outside. I found this extremely curious, because last weekend, my niece and nephews paid us a visit, invariably playing heartily with the children's parakeet "blue." Monday morning Jawbitch and I found the poor parakeet dead beneath his water dish. I should step back a moment and explain some background for this sordid tale and my present befuddlement.

Jawbitch and I have kept birds as pets for many years, even before we had kids. Max dubbed our sole remaining parakeet "little bird." Little bird died when Max was three. We figured this would be a good opportunity to explain life and death for the kids, so we had a funeral for little bird, and buried him in the backyard. That was the year for death, as Aunt Nanny's 27 year old cat and my 66 year old father died. Little G produced some colorful shoe box coffins for the pets.

Ever since then, whenever Max got truly upset about something, invariably he would recall the passing of little bird, and cry that he missed little bird. When Max turned five, Gram promised Max that she would get him another parakeet. Having two other cockateels and a ring neck parakeet, I was dead set against another pet, but my absence made my vote overruled. Fortunately, Max seemed to forget about the promised bird.

But suddenly, without warning, Max remembered about the promise, approximately every two weeks. After enduring two and a half months of these relentless reminders, Gram broke down and bought him the bird. "Blue," the one that died last weekend.

Before leaving for work Monday morning, we decided it best to leave the birdie corpse in the cage, so that the kids could see what happened. Gillian called us on the train, extremely upset about the matter. They only had him a couple of weeks. We consoled her as best we could over the phone.

When I got home from work Wednesday, there was yet another blue parakeet in the cage. Jawbitch explained that these young parakeets can't handle too much activity. Enduring a condition known as "wet tail," they can literally die from it. She was determined to keep this one in the dining room, away from the outside draft of open doors leading from the kitchen to our deck. But that doesn't explain the present absence of bird this morning, so upon arriving in the city this morning, I called her:

G-man: I found the bird's cage outside this morning, empty. I thought maybe somebody accidentally left it outside, but there were no feathers, spilled seeds, or other signs of a struggle. What happened?
Jawbitch: The bird died.
G-man: Again?
Jawbitch: Yep.
G-man: Did they even get a chance to name him? Maybe "Little Bird Too?" Are we going to have a double burial this weekend?
Jawbitch: I'm not sure. I think Gram took it back to the pet store.
G-man: I bet she's mad as hell. She's probably demanding a warranty.

Rest in peace, my fine feathered and hairy friends.