Tuesday, April 26, 2011

...we went thru a lot together, and I'll never forget her...

"Oh, Sweet Pea, come on and dance with me
Come on, come on, come on and dance with me
Oh, Sweet Pea, won't you be my girl
Won'tcha, won'tcha, wont'cha be my girl...

I've kept quite a few species of birds over the last few years. And just when I thot I'd never have another, I met Sweet Pea. She was a 35-year old Umbrella Cockatoo. On impulse one day, I went into a pet shop, and there she was in the corner, her cage hidden from view by a bedsheet stretched over it. She had been previously kept, for 30 years, by a woman who yelled at her all the time. She was sitting on the bottom of the cage, her head down in the corner. She'd just been in another situation that didn't work out for her. Sweet Pea didn't like women, because she was treated so badly, for so long, by her first owner. The second owner kept her for a while, but the bird attacked his girlfriend. So back to the pet shop went Sweet Pea.

I went to a dance just the other night
I saw a girl there who was out of sight
I asked a friend of mine who she could be
He said that her friends just call her Sweet Pea...

I came in to the Pet Shop several times in February, and each time, I'd talk softly to her, trying to establish a rapport, and after a while, she'd climb up the cage wall and sit on my fingers poking between the cage bars. My heart went out to her, because I know what it's like to feel depressed. I brought her home, and she and I became fast friends. I vowed to her that things would be better now. She was out of her cage quite a lot, she was easy to handle, and she'd sit in my lap for hours at a time. I fell hard for this bird. No bird owner can be with his bird all the time, and that's where the problems began. She chewed and broke several of the bars on her cage, and made a great escape, climbing to the top of the cage where she began ripping paneling off the walls. I was literally in Shock when I got home that day. I couldn't understand; she seemed like such a gentle girl when I bought her.

So I blocked off the part of the wall she chewed with books in plastic milk crates, and thot all was well. Think again...she broke out and got on top of her cage again, where the milk crates full of books were. She pulled down the top milk crate, which fell onto her cage, which sent everything crashing to the floor in a resounding thud. When I got home, the cage was on the floor, tipped sideways, with milk cartons and books scattered all over. She was on top of the side of her cage, and was all wide-eyed, thinking I was gonna kill her, but no, I didn't do that. A couple of days later, I got another cage with stronger bars. She climbed all over that cage, trying to find a weak bar she could snap off. That failing, she began ripping her seed dishes out of the mounts, scattering dishes and seeds all over the place. And yet she was so nice when I was home! It's almost as if she had a split personality.

I walked on over and asked her to dance
Thinking maybe later we'll be makin' romance
But every guy there was thinkin' like me
I had to stand in line to get a dance with Sweet Pea...

By this time, I had kept it in for so long. I finally lost it one morning, when I got up to find seed dishes and broken bird toys scattered all over the place. I absolutely lost it. I yelled at her, and shook a stick at her. No, I didn't kill the bird. But as I was yelling, I saw a change come over her. She became afraid of me for the first time. And I turned into the very type of person that I'd tried to get her away from. And I knew I'd lost her in that instant. She was now afraid of me in the day, but at night she would still indicate she wanted a little company. The final night she was here was a good night; I wanted to give her at least one more good night before the people from a local "bird rescue" operation came and got her today.

As I handed her over to the guy who was gonna take her home, she started fawning all over him, squealing with delight and cooing to him, just like she'd done with me when I first got her. And, you know, my heart was absolutely broken. I wanted to hang on to her, yet I knew I had to give her up. The bird and I simply were not good for each other anymore. I had dreams of taking her for car rides, out for walks and showing her off to people. I really thought I'd finally found the right bird. Hopefully her new owners will do a better job of keeping her than I. "It's the right thing to do", said the bird-rescue lady, and I know it was. That doesn't make me feel any better. I'm past my mid-50s now and it's harder to live alone than it used to be. But yet people drive me crazy. They complicate my life. So I've tried to find a bird companion.

I finally got to whisper sweet words in her ear
I whispered we oughta get away from here
We took a little walk, I held her close to me
And underneath the stars I said to Sweet Pea...

My time with Sweet Pea took so much energy out of me that I don't have any left. I gave her a lot of my soul. It might sound silly to some of you who read this, something along the lines of "it's just a bird, you know". Bird owners feel differently. And my heart broke today when I had to give her up. After all, it was "the right thing to do". Yeah, rrrrright. Tell that to my heart. Why didn't I post about Sweet Pea before? I didn't want to jinx myself. After all, I had such high hopes for this bird...

Oh, Sweet Pea, come on and dance with me
Won'tcha, won'tcha, won'tcha dance with me
Oh, Sweet Pea, wont'cha be my girl
Won'tcha, won'tcha, won'tcha be my girl...

The chords to Tommy Roe's "Sweet Pea" came to me one day while playing guitar for her.  "Sweet Pea" was indeed the bird's name.

Goodbye, Sweet Pea.

My little Sweet Pea girl.


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