Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Oona brings me memories of Bitsie, 1942

A few years back my granddaughter, Alicia, was between living quarters and needed a temporary place for her pet parakeet, Oona. I agreed that my house was the obvious answer to her problem and she brought the bird over later in the week.

Having a bird in the house was no great bother, but it did tweak my memory. I was no longer a 73 year old widower living in North Carolina. I was 8 years old, living in Plainfield, New Jersey and training my own little bird, a canary named Bitsie. She was the first pet that was mine alone and I loved her accordingly.

In 1942 my Dad had a change in jobs and we moved from New Jersey to Massachusetts. We made the journey by train and it must have been amusing to see. I was the youngest of 5 girls ranging from age 9 to 17 and we each carried our most precious possession. Mine, as you could guess, was Bitsie. She made that long trip in a small metal cage that I carried on my lap.

I don’t remember how long Bitsie lived after that move but I do remember her funeral. My mother had received a brush & comb set in a box that closely resembled a small coffin. It was about 3x10” and the sides and top were made of transparent plastic.
We lined it with satin and placed Bitsie’s little body inside. Then we gathered in the back yard for the service and the burial. I shed many tears but, thanks to the wisdom of my mother, I learned to face death with sadness but also with dignity and love.

Alicia visited Oona often while she stayed with me and it was fun to watch them play together. One of the bird’s favorite “outings” was when we would turn on the kitchen faucet...just a trickle…and she would play to her hearts content under the water. She would show off for us, flapping her wings and tossing her head from side to side.

My house is back to “normal” now but I still remember Oona’s visit and how it brought back memories of Bitsie.


Blogger KGMom said...

What a great story. I have never had a bird as a pet, but I have friends who do. They caution that taking on a bird is a longer time commitment than many people realize as some birds have quite long life-spans.
Thanks for sharing Oona and Bitsie.

4:49 PM  
Blogger Cathy said...

Awww. That's a sweet memory and I love the picture of Oona enjoying the sink shower. I had no idea birds would do that. I'm smiling. (Alicia was a cutie :0)

6:26 PM  
Blogger kenju said...

On my old blog, I once wrote a post about our 2 parakeets and how we got them, etc. I had always wanted a bird, but I knew nothing about them. I really enjoyed having them, but the mess was incredible.

My daughter-in-law has a sun conure now. Sammy hates me and her mother too, and takes every opportunity to bite!

6:42 PM  
Blogger thailandchani said...

Glad you are back. :)

Cute story about Bitsie. I can just imagine you sitting on that train with the cage on your lap.



6:59 PM  
Blogger Claudecf said...

All kids want a pet.
My parents never let me have a pet. You have to admit that living on the fifth floor of an old building didn't encourage the idea of going down the stairs several times a day to take a dog out, and carrying packs of litter up the stairs didn't appeal to them either. As for birds, they always claimed they brought diseases into the house.
Years later, I first thought I'd get away with giving my daughter a goldfish, but she rightly said that you couldn't hug a goldfish.
At the moment I am taking care of her cat and finding cleaning up the litter not so appealing and although he is cute, I'll be happy to back to normal. :)

11:06 PM  
Blogger Cazzie!!! said...

Wow, that is so cute to see, and brings back memories of our Budgie called, "Cheeky Boy". He used to fly through the house saying cheeky boy, pretty boy and teasing the siamese cat. One day, she got sick of him and he got a bit too cheeky and landed on the TV antenna. It swung down and our cat got him..she petrified him to death :(

12:18 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Ginnie
You must be a beloved grandmother. I love the way you have created two parallel stories here that meet in the end as you both watch the bird play under the water. Nice writing.

3:54 AM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

Birds have a lot of personality. I've had a budgie or two in past years.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What sweet memories of a time gone by. And amazing how that very first pet lingers in our mind. Mine was a beagle named Laddie when I was 4 years old.
Your granddaughter is gorgeous and I love that name "Alicia."

6:46 AM  
Blogger Pam said...

My Mom had parakeets, I had a cockatiel. Cockatiels talk some, and we had a great time teaching it a smattering of words...and a wolf whistle!

10:20 AM  
Blogger dmmgmfm said...

That is an awesome story. We babysat a myna bird when I was young. He kept saying over and over "I love you Laurie". It about drove my dad to drink, but I loved it!

6:12 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

How sweet! I have an African Grey now (who is absolutely horrible -- I love him!), but we also had the best parakeet in the world. She died on our trip to Montana after a high elevation mountain pass, and I still miss that little bird. She was a real sweetheart!

7:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Gin; So good to see you and hope this comes through to you;

7:42 AM  
Blogger Suzy said...

Back in the days before budget cuts my school district had a kind of animal lending library for classrooms. I loved getting the dove, which cooed beautifully, and also a cockatiel named Scout. Scout came home with me for a weekend, and there are still visible beak marks in the wood on our bedroom windowsill, 14 or so years later..

7:24 PM  

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