Photos of Lucky: Stephen Kenny (my brother-in-law)
The years after my divorce were pivotal ones for me. I came out of my shell and into my own. It’s not really that I learned to stand on my own two feet, so much as I learned that I had always been able to take care of myself. I had just never been aware of my own strength. I was 35 years old, but I have always felt that until that period of my life I was still more girl than woman.
My work involved a lot of travelling and my children were very young so I arranged all of my trips around my shared-custody schedule. I was blessed to work with an amazing group of people who supported me with this for more than a decade. For that, I am and always will be forever grateful…
Both my children wanted a dog or a cat but alas, with a schedule like mine – and money always being an issue for a single parent – that was never something that I could give them. They did, however, have a distinguished line of hamsters, rats and one mouse that were a lot easier to find care for when I was away.
Getting a budgie bird was my idea. Again, she was easier (and less expensive) to find care for, and I thought her constant singing would add some much-needed joy into a home that had recently been shattered. I called her ‘Lucky’ in the hope that she would bring us some (unfortunately, I am not known for my imagination in the pet-naming department).
We had her for 10 years – a good life in budgie years. Unfortunately for my children, she had but one love in her life and that was me: she would start to chirp excitedly the second she heard my footfall outside the door. When I would enter the house, she would land on my shoulder in greeting and give me countless affectionate bird kisses on my cheek and neck. She would cuddle down into my palm and let me kiss her little back repeatedly. Each evening, she and I had a little kiss-goodnight routine before I ‘tucked her into bed’. And she would begin singing every morning as soon as she was aware that I was up and about. With the exception of myself, she hated all women and never warmed up to my daughter. She adored men, especially my dad and my brother-in-law, and as my son grew older, she became very affectionate with him as well.
She was wonderful company for me all those lonely years when the kids were not with me. Her cage was never locked – she was always able to come and go as she pleased. She had a few preferred perches around the house and I would occasionally find a little egg (I still have one of them) but as I learned the futility of watching her try to hatch them – I began to take them away as soon as she would allow it. I could even ask her to allow me a 10-minute snooze if I came home for lunch. She always squawked exactly 10 minutes after I would ask her to. Weird but true…
Rather suddenly, she slowed down, and it became very obvious to me that her time was drawing near. She could no longer fly and was barely eating or drinking. There was nothing I could do for her but keep her close and warm. I still had to go to work, of course, so I tucked her into a little fanny pack and carried her with me, around my waist, for several days. I did not want for her to be all alone when she died. At night, I kept her in the bathroom near my bedroom where I was able to keep the temperature nice and warm for her. I am a light sleeper so I also knew I would hear any sounds of distress.
At bedtime one evening, I left her in the bathroom while I went to get my pyjamas. I could not have been gone for more than a minute or two. When I came back, she was lying very still on the floor of her cage. I cried for a long time, of course, and was distraught that she had ‘left’ without my loving company, especially after all my efforts to ensure that she was never left alone.
It took me a long time to understand that perhaps it was easier for her to leave when I was not holding on quite so tightly…
Patti Moore Wilson © wednesdayschildca.wordpress.com