One of the things we have discovered along the way as we have cared for my mother in our home is that she seems to enjoy taking care of little animals for vacationing families. Her most frequent guest is a sweet little guinea pig named ‘Mr. Nibble.’ Whenever he visits, Mom has purpose … and something to over-feed for a few days.
So, when a “free” parakeet became available, I jumped at the chance to add a little pet therapy to our home caregiving. My daughter and her family kindly offered to go pick up the bird from the paint store where he was temporarily residing. Momma watched with curiosity as my daughter carried the towel-covered cage through the kitchen and placed it upon an old toy chest. Once she figured out what it was, rather than be delighted, Momma chaffed at the sight of the bird in the cage. She wanted nothing to do with Philip. We had so hoped she’d warm up to this handsome little guy.
My granddaughter Violet (age 14) aspires to be a writer so, when she came for a visit the next day, I asked her to be a guest writer on my blog and tell about our experience with the bird. Here’s the story from her perspective:
“Pretty bird, pretty bird”
When Philip finally took flight, grandma and I were in mid-conversation. Philip zoomed around the kitchen, around the lights, over grandma’s head, into the living room and down on his cage again.
Great-grandma’s eyes were wide with fright. Philip took off again and great-grandma put her foot down. “Alright! Now if someone doesn’t put that bird away, it goes!” Papa laughed trying to lighten up the mood.
“NO! I’m not joking! Put that bird away or it goes!” Great-grandma said, pointing a shaking finger at the bird.
“This is my house and the bird stays,” Papa said calmly, but loudly (so she could hear).
About an hour later, great-grandma was sitting next to the cage saying things like:
“Whats you lookin’ for?”
“You’re so pretty!”
“Yaay! Hi birdy! Yaay! Whatcha doing over there?”
Then, while gently stroking the cage, I heard great-grandma say, “Pretty bird, pretty bird. I can’t whistle as good as you!”
Cute little story. Every bit of it true.
I wish I could say that Momma and the bird became good friends, but that part of the story would definitely be fiction. Truth is, even though her hearing is marginal, she could hear the bird’s high-pitched squeaks and squawks and the noise agitated her. To make matters worse, his daily exercise flights out of the cage frightened and irritated her something fierce.
Mom even threatened the poor little bird’s life and well-being on a number of occasions – so uncharacteristic of her before Alzheimer’s.
If life had do-overs, I’d ask for a trial visit to see how my mom would react before committing to pet ownership. Thankfully, we were able to quickly find a new family for the bird. Philip now has a happier outlook on life: a new home, a family with a little girl that adores him, and a new feathered friend and companion – another parakeet named Zeuss.