Blueberry

October 6, 2000

I never thought I would bond with a bird, but I did, and now I’m paying the price. Blueberry, our parakeet, died last night and the house seems terribly quiet. For 12 years, he was a good friend and an active part of the household. He greeted us when we uncovered his cage in the morning, chirped loudly when we returned home, echoed our sneezes, talked to us during the day and talked to himself in the early evening.

He loved it when we ate dinner in the dining room, his room, and would dine along with us at his seed tray, looking up to catch bits of the conversation. And he did not like it when we ate in the living room, often scolding us in the middle of a TV dinner until someone called out to him.

His usual words were “pretty bird,” but sometimes he sounded like a radio station at the edge of reception, carrying on a long broadcast that we couldn’t quite make out. Other things he said just once, like “Get upstairs!”, which he had learned the night before

The woman at the shop where we got him had said that birds love toys, and I’d rolled my eyes, but she was so right. Blueberry invented games with his toys, stacking the jingle bell ball on top of the jingle bell barrel, walking away and then returning to knock the ball off the barrel, chasing the ball into a corner, picking it up and putting it back on top of the barrel, repeating the process again and again.

He whistled conversations with us between rooms, the content of which was pretty much “Here I am.” “Here I am.” “There you are.” “There you are.”

Blue knew when Laurie was coming home, beginning his hello chirp, a loud clear call that was Laurie’s alone, before the car was in the driveway, sometimes before it was even in sight. I was witness to this many times, but it always amazed me.

In his younger days, he flew around the house, perching on the hanging plants or book shelves. I couldn’t find him one day, until I walked by the open door of his cage and he called out to me from his perch.

He wouldn’t have been with us for long at all had Laurie not given him medicine for an infection early in his life, chasing him into a corner and holding him still for an eyedropper dose of antibiotic, twice a day for ten days. The gooey stuff got into his neck feathers and he tore them all out, looking like a vulture for a few months. But he survived the infection, grew to love Laurie again, and lived for another 10 years.

Blueberry was born in Syracuse, raised by a priest who kept parakeets as a hobby. Two years ago, he made the move to Skaneateles in better shape than any of us. He played on the bottom of his cage during the ride over and attended the mortgage closing, a first for the attorney’s office.

Abbie named him right in the store, moments after she picked him out. He was so blue. I said, “What are you going to call him?” And she said, without hesitation, “Blueberry,” in a voice I can still hear clearly today.

He started out as a gift to Abbie on her fifth Adoption Day, but he turned into a gift for all of us.

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