Not Goodbye, Just So Long For Now

Fortune has favored me with many good friends in the world of aviculture. There’s a catch to that favor, however. We expect our smaller birds to pass on before we do, but the humans should be with us for the rest of our lives.

There’s a saying about people being in your life for a season, a reason, or a hamburger. That might not be the exact quote. Interesting thing about bird friends. When they pass on, often their sweet birds come to live with their friends.

I know I’ve talked about Linda, a little lady who could not say no to a bird in need, and when she passed unexpectedly, her family let the bird club handle the rehoming of her children. This is how we acquired our two special needs Congo African grays. And through their voices and noises, we will always have Linda with us.

Another friend in the club is often lamenting that her family doesn’t care for her birds, and when she passes on, she will have a flock in need of love and care. I would love to think I could solve her problem by volunteering, but the fact is, I am at the age where this is a concern for myself and my husband. Parrots are often devastated by the sudden disappearance of the main caregiver and love of their lives. The least we can hope for is to let some of them stay together.

One of the most severe plucking cases in a cockatoo I ever witnessed came about through the death of the man who loved two parrots, and the people in charge of rehoming those birds who didn’t understand the birds needed to stay together to stay sane. No idea what happened to the other parrot, but the cockatoo I saw had bloodied herself on her breast. Luckily she had a very caring family who were helping her heal, mentally and physically.

The parrot whose photo is currently on this blog, my Double Yellow-Headed Amazon, Maynard, came to me in September of 2013. He chose me, and I get a little thrill when I think about that choice of his. The man who arranged our meeting and eventual cohabitation had given me birds before. Jordan, an Timneh African gray, and various cockatiels. He’s also one of the best hand-feeders I ever knew. His chicks fledge and wean and stay sweet beyond belief.

To insure his privacy, I will call him Frank in this blog post. He never had an easy life, as far as I heard. He’d done drugs, had anger issues, and been in prison for various reasons. He lived as a caretaker for another friend, until a few months ago. He down-sized his flock as he became less able to care for them.

Some years back, Frank had a heart attack, and was in the hospital for some weeks. No one told me, no one in the bird club spread the word of someone needing our prayers and visits. He recovered, and I truly thought that was the worst that would happen to him. Life isn’t fair, of course.

In the last six months, Frank began to have trouble standing, using his left arm, and other such problems. He went to the doctor, and heard the worst thing you can expect to hear. He had brain cancer, and the tumor placed growing pressure on areas that controlled his motor functions. I can’t blame him for giving up. But I am angry that cancer is still such a devastation in the world.

Just a week ago, things became apparent that he needed to go to a facility where he could get 24-hour medical care. His employer-roommate needed a ride to see Frank, and I was happy to help out. Frank has lost the ability to speak, so I don’t know if he recognized me or not. That’s not the important thing for me. It’s important that I was able to see him, to tell him Maynard says hello. And that I was inspired to write this blog in memory of his life.

He has given up completely. He refuses to eat, won’t take medications, sleeps all the time. But what else is there to do? He never wanted to be dependent on others, and I fancy his spirit is raging against the dying of the light, but to be done as soon as possible is the best path for him. I pray he has an easy transition to the next life.

At that time, or possibly before, his roommate will give me Frank’s cockatiels. And their sweetness will remind me of my friend, just as Maynard’s phone conversations remind me of Frank’s voice and manners. There’s also a problem with finding the money to cover cremation and such things. I am hugely thankful to be in a position to help out when the time comes. But those things don’t matter so much to Frank, I’m sure.

May the Creator ease your path, until we meet again. I’ll return on Wednesday.

Note: Frank passed away on August 7, 2014 at around 8:15 am.

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