|Five years ago, and last month|
We all knew that the bird wasn't well. He had a stroke or something similar about a year ago, when he stopped squawking constantly and stopped growing new feathers. I refer to the bird as "he" because Gene does, but a few years ago "he" laid and egg and Gene realized that the bird was female, but it was too late for Gene to make the transition in his own mind. The bird's behavior had also changed pretty drastically lately, with him sleeping more often and crawling under Gene's beard, where he obviously felt safe, instead of perched on his shoulder. Gene also got in the habit of wearing a shirt so that the bird could nestle under it, and he spent more and more time when outside huddled in the safety of Gene's beard and shirt. He made little noises like baby birds do, and we speculated that he had reverted in his old age to becoming a nestling again.
Gene said he thought it would be a relief when Poopers finally died, but you just don't lose a companion of more than twenty years without suffering a real loss. He said that he should just go home and clean everything up and bury him, but I reminded Gene that his girlfriend Paula has a relationship with the bird, too, and would need to have some closure. I sent Gene off to Paula's house and will find out on Monday what they finally did to lay the bird to rest.
I went looking for a card to give to Gene, but after perusing all the sympathy cards, nothing was appropriate, so here is my gift to the bird he loved: a blog post. Goodbye, little bird! May you fly free and squawk to your heart's content. You gave my friend Gene an awful lot of love.