I didn’t want to write this post today. In fact, I never wanted to write it. I wasn’t supposed to have to. Not now, at any rate.
It’s been three weeks, four days, and 23 hours since our beloved pet bird, Mr. Magoo, passed away. He was not quite six years into what was supposed to be a life span of up to 35 years.
We got ripped off. Magoo developed a liver problem that ultimately took his life over the course of a grueling three weeks of illness under the care of four different veterinarians.
At this point, I’m supposed to be getting over my grief. In some ways I am. I can go about my day, get work done, spend time with friends and family, and appear normal to everyone who knows me.
As long as I don’t think about it too much.
If anyone asks me about Magoo, or expresses his/her sympathy, I have to struggle to keep it together. I cry over Hallmark commercials, so this isn’t all that surprising.
I’ve begun to wonder why I’m such an emotional basket case. Is my grief more profound than someone else’s? Was my pet more important to me than others’ pets are to them?
I doubt it.
I think the difference, if there is one, may be that the Big Man and I don’t have children or grandchildren who are the primary focus of our lives. For us, a pet serves as a furry, or in this case feathery, stand in to receive all the love, attention, and nurturing normally reserved for one’s progeny.
We got Magoo, a Meyer’s Parrot, when he was just a baby. I remember bringing him home and putting him in the great big cage we got for him with lots of fancy perches and toys and expecting him to immediately reward us with his unconditional love and devotion.
Magoo had another idea.
We had taken him from the only home he’d ever known and away from the sibling with whom he’d been raised. This is standard procedure when adopting a baby bird, but Magoo didn’t know this. He was afraid and very insecure in his new environment. His cage had smooth perches that his little feet (talons) were not used to gripping, the food and water dishes were in a different location, and there were two strangers holding out fingers that they expected him to step up onto.
It took a while for us all to get used to each other. Magoo spent the first four or five months of his life in our home bonding with me and showing distrust for the Big Man. Then, slowly, he started to bond with him. By the time we’d had him six months, Magoo had decided that the Big Man was his most favorite person in the world and I was a distant second even though I was his primary caregiver.
I was ok with this and was just glad we were one big happy family.
Over the years Magoo learned how to imitate many of the various sounds he heard around the house—the ding of the microwave, the sound of a pop can opening, the clinking of a spoon against the side of a mug when the Big Man stirs his coffee, the sound of water running, and even the grunting sounds the Big Man makes when he does sit ups. He also learned to imitate just about any silly sound the Big Man taught him while they spent time in the Man Cave on Friday and Sunday evenings.
Some of these sounds, I would prefer he hadn’t learned—the Big Man was trying to teach Magoo to belch after having successfully taught him to imitate the sounds of other bodily functions.
Some may think that Magoo was just a bird, but to us, he was one third of our little family. He was a joy and made us laugh every day with his antics. He was a needy little bird and wanted to be on my or the Big Man’s shoulder constantly, but that only endeared him to us more.
I miss my little Goo desperately but know that life goes on. I’ve been through this before with my previous bird who shared my life for over fourteen years. It’s all part of the circle of life that prepares us to accept the inevitable greater losses of family and friends.
Magoo will always hold a special place in our hearts and I pray that God has saved the perfect spot for him on his shoulder.