Sunday, August 31, 2008
It's always hard to say goodbye.
A little less Sunshine in our lives....
Everyone and every thing has a light it shines on our lives....yesterday, a big light left ours, one that has shone brightly each and every day for 15+ years....my little Delfia has died.
He was but a little blue fluff of a bird when I received him as a birthday present from my roommate back in September of 1993 (thanks again Jen for the most amazing, loving gift...one that just kept on giving!). As a matter of fact, we thought He was a She at first and Delfina was her name--a norwegian derivative of dolphin as he was all blue and I was a Marine Biology student....time went by...she turned into a He (the sex on a baby parakeet isn't obvious until they mature) and Delfina became Delphia which became Delfia....I left Marine Bio and went on to English/French as my majors...and Delfia matured to an amazing amalgamation of blue, green and bright yellow.
Delfia was always aware of what a beautiful, handsome little bird he was...sometimes telling his mirror self aaaall about what a handsome devil he was looking at...sometimes telling us from whatever was his chosen perch, and always, even in his most unwell days, preening and keeping up appearances. I remember one time in Wilmington, when I took him into a pet store, for one of only two wing clippings he received as a babe, a lady offering me money to use him as a stud as his colourings were apparently quite rare and unique...I had to respond that he was stud enough with our remote control and thumbnails--which he apparently thought to be his girlfriends and had numerous amorous...uh...encounters with!! His 'dates' with these ladies and romantic culminations were one of the early things that had us crying with laughter. He eventually grew out of puberty and settled into life as our little shoulder buddy, travelling all over whatever home we lived in with us, always curious about what we were up to, and just wanting to be with us, his flock.He lived his life flying free in our homes, only reposing to his cage for a nap or at night for bed. This is one of the reasons we're sure he lived a good, long life--plenty of exercise and entertainment all the day long....some entertainments were purely for the sake of irritating mom & dad...ie: should we happen to accidentally leave some paper on the table or out and then leave him alone, inevitably later you would find those tell-tale little chews all around the outside edges--I think one or two of our bosses over the years wondered at the excuse of 'but the bird nibbled the report, I swear!' and newspapers were his favourite snack. Ah food....my little gourmet...another reason he prospered to old age...ate whatever we ate, always politely eating only on the edge of your plate and always cleaning up the crumbs of whatever you gave him...my baby was not a messy bird! His favourites--and I do not exaggerate as many of you were witness to over the years--salmon, potato chips, rice, any meat, carrots & lettuce, and broccoli heads that always gave him bad breath--phew--fruit of any kind, especially when he stayed with Aunt Cindy and she catered to him with a plate of delicacies! OJ out of the glass, drinking like a gentleman, but the orange bits were what he was really after. Spaghetti sauce was top of the sauce list...and the many accidental dives into the cereal bowl because he just couldn't wait for you to give him his share--always eliciting a howl from me. One knew to always save the last bit of yoghurt in the cup, as he could put away a spoonful....moving to France made him a true frenchie as baguette became a permanent staple in his cage, the harder the better!
I didn't read a book about parakeets until almost two years after he arrived in my life--and that was at 2a.m. in a Walmart one night when I was bored...and it turned out that his life was completely wrong according to the experts. 1) Birds like quiet, calm atmospheres and regular schedules--2) they should be put to bed when the sun sets--3) they should eat a balanced bird diet. OOPS. Life in college meant he stayed up late for all night paper writing sessions, listened to blaring music while I cleaned the house or did aerobics or just hung out, was the center of attention for parties. He travelled in the car, sun roof open, radio-him & me singing along, with seat belt fastened for Spring Break trips, weekends away and went to fetch the mail on my shoulder in our apartment complex. But what do the experts know? He grew up with me and I certainly didn't come with a book :)
Everywhere life took us, he came along. Multiple moves in the U.S., our first house that we built, and when we moved to France there was no question of him not coming....a small delay while we did time in quarantine crazy UK and then he came over in Business class (nothing but style for my little man!) to France when we settled in. He loved our apartment on Raynouard with his mirrors everywhere, parties, visitors and beautiful view. Dr. Blanche led to a calmer existence, though he was still the center of dinner parties and he loved his kitchen faucet, buffet box (an old xmas stocking shiny box that came out one year, he adopted and it became permanent decor!), napping on our laptops & leaving 'presents' for us to find later, and letting all the neighbours know when I was coming home--you could hear his call for blocks if you listened--better then a watch dog any day :) He travelled to more countries then some
people (Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg) and I always received smiles from the Parisians (a rarity let me tell you) when he accompanied me on buses, the metro or trains to various holidays. And I know there is more then one stranger out there who passed us on the road and then slowed back down to have a second look at the bird driving the car (his favourite spot on road trips was on the steering wheel or the headrest of the driver) and pointed excitedly, much to our amusement.
He was a little fighter, surviving various injuries and serious illnesses over the years, most would have killed an ordinary bird, but not my D--vet after vet commented on his extraordinary age: first at 3, then 5, 10 and now at 15. He was always a character, squawking loudly when someone poked their finger in his cage--his domain! He used to ride my dog Jr. (my beloved standard poodle who died at 17 in '99) up and down the stairs in our house, share her dinner and clean the hair in her paws....I know he missed her when she died....and then along came Freya three years ago--a little terrier bred to chase anything on the move. The little old guy took a little longer to accept her into his 'flock', but when he did it was just so sweet, cleaning her long hairs and zooming into the kitchen at even a hint of canned dog food--another gourmet favourite. And she in return came running whenever he screeched in indignation at being held--was something wrong with her big brother D? Not once has Freya ever malevolently looked at Delfia, she always gave him his space on the floor and at her dish--animals know, of this I have no doubt--family is family, no matter what their race. Nap time in the M-J household meant everyone on the bed passed out, Delfia included, laying completely flat on our chests until we moved. Madonna was one of his favourite singers, he sang loudly and clearly when her tunes played....I will forever remember this when Madge plays now.
Most of all, in the plethora of pleasurable things this little creature brought into our lives, was the laughter, companionship and love he provided not just us--his family--but to all the people who bird-sat for us over the years and visited. I cannot tell you the number of times people asked me if I could train a bird for them like Delfia--not possible I replied, he just is the way he is because of a full life. He was 'so cool' in the words of many a child--one Spring Break he made my 'nephew' Andrew in Florida THE cool kid in class because he brought a bird in for show/tell that would sit on the kids' shoulders--and many people had never seen a bird up close or had them sit on their shoulder, or heard the many songs, chirps & sounds he made, until they met the Big D. He has turned non-animal people into animal lovers--Denise & Scott can attest to that :) He was a Top Gun flier--glass windows, ceiling fans--nothing phased him....and he loved nothing more then to strafe those who were scared of birds--we smiled secretly at his prowess. He could drop and glide and on the rare occasion he did go outside the house/apartment, he always returned to us--which amazed everyone--'why doesn't he fly away?' we were often asked, and the reply--'well, if you had a kingdom and people attending to your every whim, would you leave?'.....
And now that he has left us, the immense quiet that surrounds us is deafening. I sit at my computer now and no reassuring peeps, twitters or dingles of bells comfort me in the background, getting up in the morning and going to bed will be hard as he was always the first/last thing I thought of and cared for every day. There are many habits I'm programmed to perform, for him, that will stop me in my tracks I'm sure, and as the tears well I must force myself to stop them. People underestimate the power of love animals bring into our lives, but I for one will be eternally grateful for every moment I was granted with this amazing, smart, happy, character filled little bird. As he lay in my hand yesterday, and I brushed his out of place feathers back--I knew he would be irritated to not be perfectly groomed as we laid him to rest--I felt so painfully the huge hole in my heart opened up by his death, but know that as time passes the memories of the happiness he brought to our lives will partially fill that hole--but a little part of me is gone with him, and this is life. It is a small price to pay for so much joy. We picked a sunny part of the yard, that my future kitchen will look out upon, to bury him--along with his favourite bells, cuddle buddy and toys...and in the spring I will plant one of those blooming yellow trees to remind me of my little sunshine.But for now, I want to deeply thank all of you that helped us care for him over the years, asked about him, loved him or were a part of his life, you helped make him the wacky, goofy, loving part of our family that he was.
I leave you now with a somewhat repeated, but meaningful quote from Alfred Tennyson:
"I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it, when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all."