I’ve inherited a fortune!
I had mentioned that I’ve been processing more than one death recently; I already spoke to one of those, but the other death was my wife’s mom. Now I suppose I should step aside and explain my wife-status, as some people find this a bit hard to understand. I met my wife, Summer, when I decided to learn how to roller skate in a start-up derby league in 2010. She was the president of that skate club. I don’t remember how our friendship progressed but for the past several years, we can only be described as wives! She and I are essentially best friends, but it goes a step beyond that… but without the sexual aspect of a romantic relationship (because I know some of you must be wondering). So, for all intents and purposes, we play the spousal role for each other.
Now that I’ve cleared up that definition, we can move forward.
Summer’s mom had an arduous last couple months of life, ending in the ICU, peacefully (I’d encourage everyone check out Summer’s blog The Starry Eyed Crow to read about that process and journey). For the past several years, Summer’s mom had been a role model and loving mother-in-law to me; we spent holidays and birthdays with mom and she was always such a positive and encouraging presence in everyone’s lives.
Mom also had a love for animals. She had outlived two lovely orange tabby-cats (Charley and Tigger), one yellow – a finch perhaps? – pet bird (Big Bird), and had one remaining pet – a cockatiel named RuPaul. She had found Ru wandering the neighborhood as a stray – Yes, a stray fucking BIRD! She captured him and put up ads online and flyers and notified vets in the area; many people came to see if Ru was their long-lost feathered friend, but no one claimed him. So, she adopted him and loved him for the next year or so.
When mom began her journey to leave this world, I was happy to be in charge of making sure Ru had food and water and a clean cage. I would go once or twice a week to the house, then only occupied by the bird, and feed and water him and change out his newspaper. Then, after several weeks of this, Summer and I realized that RuPaul would be homeless when mom died and the obvious solution was for him to join me (and my three cats and 30 gallon fish tank) in my tiny, downtown, 400 square foot studio apartment.
What? Me? A BIRD MOM?! I mean, I’ve never even considered owning a pet bird, how am I going to give it a good life? What does a pet bird need? Oh god… I’m a bird mom.
All of these thoughts and questions were a total afterthought – of COURSE I’d take in RuPaul! I mean, no one turns down an inheritance, do they?
So, the day that mom died, I went to her house, deep cleaned Ru’s cage, gathered all of his birdy supplies, foods, toys, et cetera. I put him, inside his cage, in the back seat of my car, covered the cage with a blanket, seat belted the cage in, and snuck him into my teensy studio apartment. Fortunately, my three cats lack front claws, and two of them don’t even have teeth – they pose very minimal threat to any natural prey. Mostly, I just didn’t want them to try to crawl onto the cage and intimidate their new feathered sibling. I cleared out a corner of my kitchen/living/dining/bed room and strategically placed things just so.
I spent the next week googling how to be a good bird mom. Shit is hard! These guys need companionship, a balanced diet, entertainment, tons of attention, and brain challenges… Birds are smart. Like waaaay smarter than my other pets.
So, I’ve got to figure out how to build a bond with this poor bird who had god-knows-what kind of life before he became homeless, then was abandoned with no regular interaction for over a month while his adoptive momma was in the hospital, and now he’s in yet another new home?! Poor tiny angel.
Mom was working on finger-training Ru before she went into the hospital, so I figured I should probably continue/restart that process. The interwebs instructed me to just let him be and allow him to acclimate to his new home for about a week.
Okay, he’s acclimated.
Then, start interacting with him through the cage… talk to him, offer treats, eat near him.
Okay, then what?
Then, we start jamming our hand in the cage and invading his space.
Ummmm okay? So, basically, I have to get him used to my hand being all up in his business and then corner him and force him to “step up” and chill on my finger? Easy enough.
He is NOT interested in fingertime. Like, at all. This is going to be a long process.
One day, on my lunch break, I decided to see if I could get him on my finger. He made a break for it out of the top of the cage and landed on my bed. The cats were more interested in what my bff, Kenzie, was eating to care about the flappy creature finally within their reach. I calmly went over to Ru and put my finger to his belly and he stepped up!!! Kenzie snapped a million pictures while I tried to squelch my unreasonable excitement.
RuPaul participated in his very first fingertime! This was my first proud bird momma moment. Of course, since then, he hasn’t wanted shit to do with me or my finger… which is fine.
I’ve since decided to try other things to make him happy while building his trust; he enjoys squirt-bottle baths weekly, and I just bought him a fancy, big, new condo to live in so he can stretch out his wings and have more room. Plus, it has a seed guard around the bottom to minimize the brickabrack that he scatters onto the floor! He also enjoys Jazz music on the radio while I’m at work during the day.
I never knew I could be so happy as a bird-mom. I love that damn featherhead.
Today I’m grateful for the opportunity to show love to many different beings.