As I sit here writing today, there is a big box of tissues sitting close by; something that I have needed for the last day or so. The reason for the tears is that a very special birdie that has been running our household for 23 years died this morning and took a piece of our hearts with him. Guy (also affectionately called Guybo and Guybo Badinski) was a cockatiel that my husband, Kirk, acquired when the bird was just 6 weeks old. These birds attached themselves to only one other bird or one person and there was never any doubt that Kirk was that person. But he sure had his uses for me, especially once he learned that I would always try to buy his affection by giving him treats. But, it was Kirk that he wanted to hold him and pet him and tend to his every need. And he would sit with Kirk or climb on him or sleep in his hands for as long as he was allowed.
I could never begin to tell you all of the awesome memories that Guy created for us nor could I ever explain the personality of that special creature. He was a part of our lives for all of the years that Kirk and I have been under the same roof and as I thought about him this morning, the memories flooded back of so many things so long forgotten. But, as I tried to summarize the essence of that little guy and how he has impacted our lives for more than two decades, what really came to mind were the lessons that he taught us.
And it was with gratitude that we accepted this ending in less than 24 hours after he lost mobility and knowing that he was not in pain, that he had received nothing but loved in his entire life, up to and including that last moment and that he had the peace and comfort of his favorite place for his passing in the shelter and warmth of all the love that he always received from Kirk. What a happy life he had and how blessed we are to have been a part of it!
First, you can’t always get what you want or need unless you let others know about it. In the beginning, he learned how to ask for what he wanted. In the morning, when he wanted to be uncovered, he would repeat “Good morning, little Guy” until the cover was removed. When he wanted to get out of his cage, he would ask “Wanna come out and play, huh”? When he wanted to get Kirk’s attention, he would yell, “Hey, Kirk, come here”! When he wanted you to love him, he would say, “I love you, little Guy”. But, over the years as he took control of our hearts and home, he was able to stop asking for what he wanted because he knew that he had us trained to know what those needs were without having to ask. And if we didn’t pay attention to him when he wanted something, he would just start screeching until he had our attention and responded to him.
Second, when you have a connection with someone, your eyes will convey everything. You don’t always have to ask or yell or, in his case, bite someone in order to let them know that you need something from them. Sometimes you can just present yourself at the front door of your cage in order to let someone know that you want them to open that door to let you out or let you in. Or if you find yourself in a position where you just can’t move forward or ask for what you need, the look in your eyes will say it all and your loved one will instinctively respond.
Third, any relationship is always a give and take. That bird knew how to give attention as well as get it. He had no shame in sitting in his cage and saying “I love you” in order to get your attention and I will guarantee you that he heard “I love you, little Guy” more than a million times including right up to his last breath. He knew how to give as well as to receive and he did so in the way that he would curl up in your hand or crawl up close to your face or get himself into crazy predicaments that made you laugh until it hurt. He knew the sound of the packages that held his special treats and as soon as he heard the noise the opening them would make, he would get all excited and run back and forth on his perch until you headed his way and then he would jumped down to grab it from you, letting you know how much he appreciated it.
The list of lessons could go on and on but I really want to share the most important lesson that he gave us and that is that it is all about love. Many years ago when we were having a problem with him picking himself until he bled, the veterinarian told Kirk that there was nothing really that could be done and don’t be surprised if you found him dead in the bottom of the cage when you uncovered him. Thank heavens Kirk did not settle for that. He searched for answers and found some things that not only stopped the picking but also resulted in an improved quality of life for Guy. Of course, none of us lives forever and the little old man had a number of issues that hindered him from flying and ultimately, even being able to walk. But, he never gave up and I know what kept him going was all the love that he received. He just kept going and going with his favorite food and water and lots of sleep and love.
But, we knew when he reached the end when he could no longer get around his house to get food and water. We took him out of his cage and held him and petted him and loved him in a 10-hour marathon until he took his last breath in Kirk’s hands. And it was with gratitude that we accepted this ending in less than 24 hours after he lost mobility and knowing that he was not in pain, that he had received nothing but love in his entire life, up to and including that last moment and that he had the peace and comfort of his favorite place for his passing in the shelter and warmth of all the love that he always received from Kirk. What a happy life he had and how blessed we are to have been a part of it!
Barbara Jacoby is an award winning blogger that has contributed her writings to multiple online publications that have touched readers worldwide.