Today is the 1-year anniversary of the passing of our 23-year-old cockatiel and as I thought about him and the time that he was a part of lives, I started to think about what an impact he had had on my life. While most people don’t normally think of a bird as having the ability to do much more than eat, sleep and make a bunch of noise, this one was certainly different. There was nothing more that he wanted than to have attention, be fed, watered and given endless amounts of petting and loving and so it was as he ran our household during every day that my husband and I have been together. But, the lessons that I learned from him so far exceeded anything that I could ever have imagined.
Yes, today will always have a very special meaning to me as I reflect on the lessons that one silly little bird taught me over the years.Barbara Jacoby
Guy (that was his name) did talk and used that talent to get what he wanted, when he wanted it. But, it wasn’t long until he stopped doing so because he didn’t need to do so. The fascinating thing that I realized is that this is much like what we as people do. We ask for what we need and for the things we want but in those special relationships that we have, we reach the point where the other person knows us so well that they know what we need and want and just handle it. I remember when I had my breast cancer surgeries and came home immediately after them, preferring my own bed to a hospital bed, and my husband knew exactly what to do. After he was sure that I was comfortably situated, he was out to the drugstore to get prescriptions filled, found a product for waterless cleaning since I wasn’t allowed to shower and obtained a gift card so that I could do some online shopping when I was ready to get up and would want something to do. No one instructed him on what he should do. He didn’t read any special instructions in a caregiver’s handbook. He just knew me well enough and cared enough to figure out what would be the things that I would need and what I might enjoy doing while recovering – and he just did it.
But, I also found it very intriguing that Guy also was able to pick up on my energy and seemed to know that I not feeling up to par after my surgeries. Where normally he would yell for attention and run around in his cage eating and drinking and playing with his toys or just settling in for a nap, he would sit on one of his perches and just look at me and tilt his head from one side to the other and wait. Sometimes I just told him I knew that he understood and other times I would talk to him and he would just wait until I was done before resuming his own activities.
Such is the wonder and wonderfulness of family and friends who did the exact same thing during the times that I was dealing with breast cancer. They let me know that they were there for me but never required that I do anything other than let them know that I knew they were there for me. And in those instances, when I needed to talk, they would listen and know that I needed no response or reassurance or anything other than an ear that would listen without comment or feeling that they needed to offer anything else. And if no one else was around or when I knew that the last thing anyone wanted to hear was about breast cancer again, I knew I could talk to my heart’s content to the bird.
But, most of all, the biggest lesson that I learned from Guy and remember to this day is about unconditional love. Other than his basic needs, he never wanted more than to be loved and held and petted and made to feel that he was safe. And in those times when we are going through our breast cancer treatments or just about any other time in our lives, we pretty much want the exact same thing. We want love and caring and holding and the promise of knowing that others will always be there for us. We want to feel that we are important enough to someone else that they will come to us and make sure that we are being taken care of. We want to know that in our time of need, there will be someone to hold our hand and guide our steps and support us when we feel that we might fall.
Yes, today will always have a very special meaning to me as I reflect on the lessons that one silly little bird taught me over the years. But, most importantly, I hope that for each “today” that I have, I will remember the lessons that I learned from him and that each day when I reflect on what has happened or occurred, I will be happy about how I lived that day and how I treated other people. Wow! What a legacy one little bird has created for himself!
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.