I was in North Carolina, my husband was in Arkansas, and my brother was in Iraq. I sat outside on my grandparents porch, trying to ignore the slight chill in the October air, and the fact that this would likely be the last time I every saw my Grandmother. My wonderful Grandmother. She was the one who made us write her letters as children. She was the one who always had a huge grin on her face even through the unhappy times. She was in the hospital with congestive heart failure and lung cancer. I was heartbroken.
I called my husband to say goodnight and to check on things at the house. He was fine, the dogs were fine, and yes Willy was fine too. You know, Willy? The African Grey parrot I kept for my brother while he was in Iraq??? WILLY. Oh good grief, it’s him you pervs!
I hear the porch door clang shut and knew my husband was taking Willy outside. That was fine, even normal for us, except for the fact that I needed to trim his wings. Willy loved to be outside, and he would hang around on me and chirp back to other birds. Not this night. Not when I was 800 miles away and so stressed out and depressed I couldn’t see straight. I heard it. I heard Willy take off with a flapping of wings, and I heard the resounding “OH SHIT!!!” come from my husband. I then heard the announcement that Willy flew off at 9pm in the evening…
The fight that came after that was neither pleasant for me or my husband. Out of all the damn things to happen while I was out of town, my brother’s most beloved pet was gone into the night. Just gone. I was sick to my stomach and heartbroken. I was sitting in another state with my dying Grandmother, my brother was in a war zone, and the Willy flew the coop.
In the few months that Willy had become a member of my household, I spoiled him rotten. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t let him get away with the general parrot no-nos, but if he wanted to sit with me, then he got to do it. If he wanted me to reach through his cage and scratch his head for hours, I did it. He was rotten to the core. He was also the only piece of my brother I had at the time.
Oh I cried. I called my mom, friends, everyone I knew of who could possibly go to help and look for the bird, and he was still not found. I demanded they put up flyers while I was out of town because SOMEONE would find him and give him back. I called and checked over and over to make sure no one answered the flyers that read:
Lost African Grey Parrot
Belongs to a solider in Iraq
Please return him if found
(My phone number here)
We heard nothing. I came home from North Carolina a few days later, took my bags in the house, and went for a walk around the neighborhood. I was soooo sure this bird would hear me and come to me. He didn’t. I drug his cage onto the front porch thinking, “he’ll see it and come back”. I was desperate to find this bird. I hung up more flyers, and knew that each day that passed was a day closer to the day I was going to have to tell my brother that Willy was gone. It broke my heart to have to tell my brother that while he was fighting a war, his pet flew away. He actually took it pretty well (maybe it was because I was bawling and squawling like a baby), and was actually pretty calm about it.
A few days after I told my brother his bird was gone, my husband and I were getting haircuts. My cell phone started ringing, and my husband answered it. I stopped listening to the idle chatter from my hairdresser when the conversation coming from my husbands mouth had various “you’re kidding me” and “no shit!!!” coming out of it. Wait, he was on MY phone…who would have made him say those things?!!!???!!
It was a man, my savior. A construction worker who found Willy the day after he flew off. A man who left the area after he took Willy home, and only knew about the flyers because his co-worker happened to find it and called him to let him know. A man who lived in Little Rock, but who drove, 20 miles out of the way to my neighborhood, saw the cage on the front porch and put Willy back in it. A man who then called to tell us the good news.
I finished with my haircut, and flew home as fast as possible. Sure enough that little stinker was in the cage happily chewing away on some food. I held my hand out to him, promptly called him a little shit, and squeezed him to me like he had never been cuddled before. I got him back in the house, and took him out again to inspect him where it was “safe”. He was great…his wings were trimmmed and there was a sparkle in his eye. He clicked at me, and chattered away for me.
I grabbed my cell phone, looked at the received calls, and called this man back. I didn’t know his name. I am sure he remembers me as the woman who sounded like “waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh booooooooooohooooooooo THANK YOU SO MUCH waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh crrrryyyyyyyyyyyyy sniffffffffffffffle THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU”. I could tell I was embarrassing myself when he was like….”OK, I need to go. I’m really glad I could help.”
I emailed my brother the good news, called all the family (in case he called them before he was able to check his email), and then I spent the next 9 months spoiling that bird like no other parrot on the planet could have been spoiled. He became my best buddy while my husband was in the hospital last year. We played together, chatted together, and cuddled. Willy was my attachment to my brother while he was gone. He was my buddy when I was alone at night for four months. I love that bird so much, that I still joke around with my brother that I am coming over to visit Willy, and not him. There is nothing I love more than when my brother calls me up and says “Hey, will you watch Willy this weekend?” The answer: Yes. Always yes. 😀