BAM Family

BAM Family

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tribute to my wonderful bird, Polly

My beautiful lovebird, Polly, passed away yesterday. She was born in 1989. Yes, you read that right. She was 22 years old. OLD, OLD, OLD for a bird. Really, for any pet. Lovebirds typically live 12-15 years so she was a senior citizen for a while. Her health had been failing for a while: she was blind, couldn't fly any more, didn't have a good grip, and would randomly fall off me onto the floor (sad, right?) Her favorite thing to do was snuggle with me, right next my neck with her feathers fluffed out--so sweet and warm. She had been having seizures for a while and the night before she died she had a few really big ones and Aaron and I could just feel the life ebbing out of her. I stayed up extra late that night holding her and stroking her and she seemed to be doing a little better when I put her to bed. But in the morning I found her stiff and cold at the bottom of her cage. 
Yesterday was rough. 
I got Polly for my 6th birthday. I had been wanting a pet for a while and the thought of a bird just really struck my fancy. On the day of my birthday I eagerly unwrapped a huge box that revealed a birdcage. Squeals of joy followed as my parents told me that we would be going to pick out my very own bird tomorrow after my sister's violin lesson. 
Well, that violin lesson was the longest violin lesson EVER. Seriously, it was like 3 hours long (definitely longest 30 minutes of my life!). We FINALLY went to the bird store (yep, they just sold birds) and picked out this little cutie. The store workers told us that lovebirds were especially good for young children as they were steady, friendly, and sturdy. 
"But don't lovebirds need a partner?" we asked. 
"No," the worker replied. "If a lovebird doesn't have a partner, he or she will bond with the new owner."

So that day we brought home this little bird, barely 6 months old, in a paper bag ("Don't sit on your bird on the way home!" the worker winked) and our magical bond was formed. 
One of the first things I taught Polly (named, at my parents urging, after Polynesia, the parrot in the Doctor Dolittle books) was to sit in my shirt--kinda weird, I know, but that way I could carry her around everywhere and kiss the top of her head every time I wanted to. Plus I didn't have to worry about her getting catapulted off my shoulder as I ran around my house like the crazy 6 year old I was. Though she never learned to talk, my sibling and I  taught her several tricks: how to give kisses, climb a ladder, play hide and seek (ok, not really) and ultimately, how to be really, really spoiled. I did teach her to poop on the trash can--one of our greatest achievements. I got to know her signals for when she needed to poop so I would swoop here down to the edge of the trash can so she could do her business. For a long while after that, she would fly to the trash can and perch on the edge (she didn't always sit in the right direction though to pop a squat. oh well). 

She loved to be out of her cage and would shriek to high heavens if she wanted to come out. Since I was homeschooled, I usually carried her around all day long in my shirt, her head poked out the top, or sometimes out the arm of my sleeve. She loved to shred paper and chew on Kleenexes as well as do a funny bobbing sort of dance at the bottom of her cage to get attention. She also loved to swing--once her swinging was so enthusiastic that the swing came off the hook at the top and she fell to the bottom of her cage. 
She also LOVED, I mean LOVED, people food. I probably indulged her way. too. much. She loved cheese, fruit, bread, and especially, candy. If I was eating a lolly pop, she would tug on the stick so hard that sometimes she pulled it out of my mouth. Then she would carry the lolly pop, her head hanging to the side because it was so heavy. She also loved to sit on the edge of water glasses and drink out of them, even if there were only drips at the bottom--she would stretch all the way down, with her toes barely hanging on the edge and lick up the liquid. Talented, that bird. 

When she was younger, she also loved to take baths. She would splash in her water dish, a glass of water, or a running tap in the sink and get completely soaked. She could come away from the bath looking like a cross between a drowned cat and one of those scary lizards with the big neck frill. 

We were separated during my college years but happily reunited during breaks. When I got married she came to live with me again--oh happy day! Thankfully, Aaron understood my obsession over this little bird and came to love her himself--though he often called her "Loud Fricker" under his breath (or out loud...). In our first house, he even build her a little bird house with a perch and food dish that she could sit in while she was out of her cage. They became friends--but I was still her favorite. 
That is, until I got pregnant with the boys. For the first 3 months of my pregnancy, Polly would not come near me. She only wanted to sit with Aaron. I would even get her out, shield her from Aaron by putting her on the opposite shoulder, and she would run across my collarbone and jump over to this shoulder when he was sitting next to me. I guess she could sense that something was different with my hormones. Crazy, huh?

When we brought the boys home from the hospital, we wondered how Polly would do with two little people competing for her attention. She was the perfect "big sister"--the first thing she did was preen Micah's head by running her beak down his fine downy hair.  She preened and licked his head for about 5 minutes. It was the sweetest thing ever. 
Me with my three babies 
(right after the boys came home from the hospital--hence the zombie-like look on my face)
(Baby Micah)
Polly was great with the boys and really gentle
(Baby Benjamin) 
Of course, there was the one time that one of the boys roughly yanked about 6 feathers out of Polly's back. She was a little wary of them from then on. 
Micah especially, loved to hold Polly on his shoulder, even when he was a toddler
The hardest part so far (other than finding her yesterday morning) has been realizing that she is not there. My clockwork habit has been to immediately go to her cage after the boys go down for a nap or at night (she would remind me, even in her old age, with a chirp if I waited too long to get her out after the boys went down. She knew it was "her time"). Last night, as soon as I gave my last kisses to the boys, I automatically went to her cage. And it hit me hard. She is gone. The tears came again. And then the horrible, ugly, snotty wrenching weeping took over while I stroked my precious, beautiful little bird while Aaron dug her grave in the back yard. Death is so cruel. I had to put her in the earth and cover her up. How wrong and ugly and dirty and CRUEL. 
(I told Aaron, at least when she was in the freezer (where I had kept her all day) I can look at her whenever I want. He asked me if I wanted to keep her in the freezer, clearing indulging me as I was blubbering all over his shoulder. I said, I would say yes, but even I know that would be a little crazy. My sweet husband hugged me and agreed, yes, it would be). 

But I was crazy about this little bird. She was my best friend. She kept me company as a little girl and a confused teenage. She used to lick my tears off my face when I cried and nap in the little hollow under my neck on Sunday afternoons. She was soft, warm, sweet, and had a huge personality. I will miss her cheeps and her little head-butting "rrrents!" (only my family will know what I mean by that. :)

I love you, Polly and I miss you so much.
You were the best pet ever and I will think about you every day. 


Tara said...

Brittany- I'm so sorry. To have a pet for that long, wow, it must be so hard. But I loved reading about her, what a fun little companion she must have been. Hang in there.

Brittany said...

Thanks Tara! It was fun to remember all those memories. I was crying at the end though. Grieving will take a while, I think.

Olivia said...

Oh Brittany I am so sorry! You are right. Death IS cruel!

Your memories made me laugh and cry. You have a very sweet and understanding husband :)

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to hear about Polly. By the end of your tribute, I was crying(at work). I know how much you loved her. I am praying that each day gets easier for you. Love you. Rhonda

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