Convergence of Griefs

The thirteenth day of May 2020, my brother Ronald died. Yes, he was residing in a nursing home, and no it wasn’t from COVID-19. He finally succumbed to the Parkinson’s Dementia that he has had to endure for some time. Ron has joined the dream he once had of all the deceased family members looking down on us from the church balcony. But when I look at the griefs we have endured, and that will continue to flow, I discovered I had something to say about it.

I tell Ronnie and Leslie you see here that they are “my lovely lovebirds” as I coo to them. But they have a not-so-secret problem: I have had to take Ronnie to the veterinarian twice now for treatment from vicious attacks from Leslie. Last week it was a dislocated jaw and a large deep scar that the vet detected.

I thank my daughter who comes over whenever Ronnie needs to be caught so we can give him his medicine. Many years ago, I was startled when a society finch had escaped our alcove aviary in my 1912 Edwardian home. When I quickly reached to grab her, she bit me really hard. Rather shocked initially, I realized only afterwards that I had broken her wing. So, the catching duty many years later remains my daughter’s job.

Within two months, Sing Along was able to fly up into the branches of her ficus tree again and kept in touch with her avian friends at the window sill. She lived to be nine years old, and acquired many an intergenerational wide assortment of avian species who knew her.

We found out after she died: seagulls, finches, sparrows, crows, and many other species my daughter would remember covered the backyard and on top of fences to stand in groups of two or three intermingled and quietly murmuring their own bird prayers as they respectfully stood in rows and kept looking at the empty window sill. A similar occurance of grief occured in Nova Scotia by black birds in a shopping mall parking lot after the killings there. Someone recorded it and posted it on Twitter.

Back to Ronnie and Leslie: much to our bafflement and bemusement, they don’t seem to think anything wrong about their fighting. Perhaps it is a symptom of boredom? They seem to accept this behaviour as “normal.” They had me conditioned into thinking their beak fights were like arm wrestling, despite beaks digging into the heads of one another, leaving little bloody welts and divots. Alternately scolding them and serious concern for their well-being almost seemed funny to them.

The first intervention was when I used to let them out of the cage and they started what I used to call “play fighting.” They soon took to hiding out in the kitchen cupboards instead of flying across the apartment living room – dining room area.

I was in the living room when I heard a commotion with a distressed panic call. I rushed to see them linked together mid-air and midflight with me loudly clapping my hands and shouting for them to “cut it out.” Leslie did not want to let go. I got the broom and Leslie finally gave it up. Ronnie’s leg was bleeding, bruised and clearly needed emergency treatment. A taxi drive to the vet hospital on a weekend was not the least amusing. It wasn’t long afterwards that I permanently banned outside cage excursions.

The raw scab was torn off our collective wounds this week as it has been revealed that the police knew about Gabriel Wortman, the serial shooter in Nova Scotia last month.

The serious beatings/batterings of the partner endured over the years and the gun collections were known to authorities, it would appear. A safe escape was unlikely without help. I wonder if the ex-neighbour will have her own dreams about how she could have offered refuge for the targeted woman in the new and safer locale that she had taken six years before.

A mother – daughter consultation about domesticated bird behaviour away from flocks got me to thinking. A flock can set you straight with a wise old uncle, a straight shooting cousin, an intergenerational critical mass of wisdom. We are our feathered friend’s keeper, and one another’s. Now we have Zoom, Skype, Facebook, Messaging. May we ask the right questions of ourselves and others to ammend our ways.

Meanwhile, I’ve been told to buy a lovebird cage to separate Leslie and Ronnie.

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