Epitaph to Cecilia AKA Squawk Parakeet
Way back then, was it 1999, I was living at the Doran St apartment, Accompanied by Captain Flint so named by grandson Forrest, from his mother I received Captain Flint. Parakeet & cage habitat, as a companion, as I finished my trip to give a presentation of one of my technical papers re KEST to GEO to a hostile rocket-brained ASCE space conference, once again.
Captain Flint needed a mate. Unknown how old he was, yet I thought he needed a mate and progeny if possible in the circumstances. So, back home, remembering seeing a pet shop - Petco? - in a shopping mall a mile or two away, I set out walking to there. In the store I saw a bunch of parakeets milling around ready to be sold. But I could not figure out which were female birds. A woman Latino came by and I asked to pick out a female parakeet for me to buy. She went behind the scenes and a man came out, grabbed a parakeet and took it back out of sight. Soon I was presented with a cardboard box and request to pay for it.
I soon was back on the long sidewalk walk back to my apartment, carrying the cardboard container, looked like a fish carrier to me. Except it was at times violently swinging to one side or the other, accompanied by angry bird noises; the occupant clearly was not tolerant of the present situation of being cooped up in the box, and demanded to be out, and do it now.
Finally arriving at my apartment, I put the new parakeet in the cage with Captain Flint, who had not known anything but mirrors and playtoys just about forever. He was used to pouncing on the mirror parakeets and pecking on them. That did not work with the new bird, who had other ideas about how to be treated.
The matrimony of Captan Flint & spouse did not seem to be going well, so I bought a second cage. outfitted it with birdseed and water, set it next to Captain Flint's cage, and moved the new unwilling bride into it.
Unfortunately, the new bird did not want to be in the new home. She was obsessed with getting back into Captain Flint's cage home.
Getting relationships to work, has always been extra difficult for me; but strive to make them work, I must do. The existence of future generations depends on it, I realized, struggle or no.
A long time friend came to the rescue; she was vastly more wise about relationships than I was, wacky as her own was, even enough to include needy me. She bought a new cage for the two parakeets, and both were put into a new world together at the same time.
In the new parakeet world, a new stability was formed. Two cohabitants ignored each other. Except if Captain Flint began to subdue one of those mirror toys, the betrothed Mrs Flint efficiently knocked Captain Flint down to the bottom of the cage, to then dazedly climb back up. Never learning what was the problem.
My ever-baffled efforts to get them to be lovers seemed to never work. Not unlike my own efforts to find a woman for my life. Yet do my best I continued to do.
Captain Flint seemed to be spending most of his time climbing back up from the bottom of their cage.
One day, Captain Flint did not try to climb back up. Captain Flint, my grandson's gift, was still and unmoving at bottom of cage.
I found I had an unsolvable problem. My goal of enabling Captan Flint to procreate a new generation, was gone. Failed utterly. The End. Yet the new lady (presumably) parakeet remained in the cage. Worse, she seemed totally distressed at the loss of Captain Flint when I removed him for burial. She seemed to think that I could bring him back. Things kept getting more complicated for me.
I continued to feed and water the new lady parakeet, best I could. I had failed my responsibility to have Captain Flint parakeet father a next generation. I now had another parakeet as my responsibility.
I now re-enter present reality and look up behind me, see that same cage with its door wide open, but no parakeet stirs within it, no watchbird to watch over me. All empty. I cannot remember what I was about to write here.
About four days' rations of rum-ethanol probably has something to do with the ongoing.
Anyway, long ago my temporary surrogate mate-friend suggested I name the surviving bird "Squawk" instead of "Cecile" as I had started to do. My friend was ever wiser than me, so the bird became Squawk. Indeed, was the word the bird said most of the time.
Thus maybe a name the bird would recognize as itself.
Squawk Parakeet was a non-stop proclaimer of her opinion. Not just her opinion about the late Captain Flint parakeet, but also about anyone who was handy. Which now was usually me.
Months later, I had the opportunity to escape from the trap of big city landlord's drowning prices of a roof over my head, to a home of my own, a tiny old tract house in a far north desert frontier town built on a vast flood plain made across a former vast volcanic lava multi-state landscape, then filled in at the end of the last ice age by rocks tumbled all the way from Montana to the Oregon Pacific Ocean coast, depositing its round rocks as the underlying strata beneath my new home.
Squawk Parakeet was my companion when driving my car over a thousand miles up to this new place; at first she was baffled in her cage by things jumping around as the car followed the curving road lines. But after a few hours she suddenly discovered that the objects out in front of the car had consistency, and all was interesting to the ever-watchful bird. From then on, it was both hang on to the side of the cage, and make lots of bird-type comments about the traffic ongoing.
In our new home in Ephrata, Washington State, northern desert desolate area, Squawk would not tolerate either a parakeet I bought at a pet store in a neighboring town, nor one given by a neighbor, saying the bird was a stray outdoors. Dual cages for introduction, nothing would work, Squawk would have nothing to do with letting another parakeet share her territory. Laying Squawk's suitors one by one to rest in my backyard spoke its story to me. You can't get there from here, type of thing.
Squawk was my ever-watchful companion every day, making bird type comments about what was on my computer's screen. I was taught by the bird to get a bird call soundtrack playing on my computer for the bird to hear, as soon as I got up each morning, or raspy irritated bird noises would fall upon me, alerting me to a duty not yet fulfilled that morning. Soundtrack playing again through the computer speakers, and all was well again. and I could head toward fixing a cup of coffee to help my day get started.
Valentines Day a year ago, an internet ad got me to buy a pair of red striped water turtles, much as I had lost when I was nine years old, to neighbor kids. Now I could fulfill my responsibility to turtles; my own valentines day was lost, due to my own ineptitude plus the gangs of bullies that ever stalk me these days. But, maybe I could enable a male and female hatchling turtle have companioned bliss, even if I myself could not. So I sent for the advertised pair of male-female turtles, shipped by air in the cold winter, at great cost. It was my chance to enable happiness, at least to the red slider turtle critters that I had failed as a nine year old gullible among clever neighbor boys.
But after abut half a year, one of the pair of growing hatchling turtles died.
The remaining turtle, who had only seemed to previously want to grab food from the other turtle, was now highly distressed. It wanted me to give the other turtle back; very upset turtle. I felt helpless. I could not explain to the remaining turtle that its mate was forever gone. No more than I could provide myself with a new woman. Meanwhile, Squawk Parakeet ever watched over all this turtle stuff. Sometimes making disapproving bird noises. I encouraged turtle and bird to be friends. They did not seem to want to do that. Turtle glared and hid, and bird flapped wings and made raspy noises at the turtle.
A couple of months ago the turtle place in Florida had another special sale of hatchling red slider water turtles. I thought that the remaining turtle might be comforted by a bunch of baby turtles around; surely not replacing a mate, but who knows maybe a bit of comforting companionship to destitute Valentine Day turtle. Most of the cost was in shipment, a small fortune to ship next day by air, hopefully to enable survival in the frigid environment. So, thinking of giving a few turtles to grandkids for Christmas, I bought six instead of three hatchling turtles, requesting both sexes.
Well, it was new pandemonium, six new tiny turtles along with one much bigger lonely turtle and one ever-watchful parakeet bossy bird flapping wings and making raspy comments about the state of the union.
Yet big-turtle got along with little turtles. and when one of little-turtles was found dead one morning and removed, big turtle spent days looking all over into every possible hiding place, for the missing little turtle.
Squawk Parakeet never missed anything going on. Turtles down below, as well as me and my computer screen images, all was Squawk's field of inspection and occasional disapproval noises and wing-flapping. But in general it was a place of stability.
Then Squawk, who was too tubby to fly well, crash-landed into the room and eventually apparently injured a leg. Squawk never complained, but increasingly struggled to deal with a foot then leg that would not work. Parakeets have a curved beak that works like a third foot, and so could get around, but ever more difficult. I fed Squawk food increasingly number of times a day, fresh water, tried to provide something that would look like a nest in which to rest; she would have none of it; never complaining, but not accepting any help.
Squawk Cecile Parakeet was motionless on the bottom of the cage this morning.
I laid her to rest in the backyard this afternoon. My companion for the past dozen years has found it too hard to live with me any more, and has exited. I writhe in weakness of being unable to heal Squawk's wounds or enable her to be mated or happy.
The parakeet cage that was new home to Captain Flint and Cecile/Squawk Parakeet, sits silent behind me, door open, lots of mess needing clean up. Someday, when I can say, my bird friend is really gone, and some stuff needs housecleaning.
The six remaining turtles seem to notice distress too, acting a bit oddly. Big-turtle, the remaining Valentine's Day turtle of last year, is not hiding under the basking ledge as he/she normally does, but instead is motionless in the far end of the turtle container. Littlest-turtle and two mid-sized turtles are in a heap under the warmth of the incandescent sunshine bulb lamp over the basking ledge. One of the basking turtles uses its paws to wipe one eye then the other. looking directly at me. I cover my eyes with my hands, allowing myself to feel my grief once again. One of our family is gone. the world will never be the same again.
"Gone ...." rings a deep bell's silent invisible heavy resonance everywhere. Squawk Cecilia Parakeet, thank you for having been with us in all those times past.