Dear Amos,

Do you remember when we first met ? You were perched in a big cage with several other babies, you being a bit older and larger. You, so pretty with your bright green body and fiery red head. The man said you were three months old and would outlive me. I rescued you from that big old cage and took you home to live with your new family. You let the cats and dog know right away who was boss and they left you alone. Skeeter was only a year old when you came into our lives.
 
I spoon fed you baby formula for the first few weeks. But you, Mr. Amos, turned into a junk food junkie. You loved eating food perched on my shoulder, me feeding you mac and cheese and veggies off my fork. You squawked at the sound of popcorn popping, knowing you would get to share. You enjoyed Mickey D’s french fries and pizza crust. You would munch carrots, apples and bananas, shaking your beak and scraping it on your perch, removing the stuck on food.
 
You learned how to talk! You picked up words including “ready, set, goooooooooooo” and “pretty bird”. I spent years trying to get you to say hello but only the “lo” came out. You could say “Tone” but never got the “knee” part. When I called your name, you asked “what”? You made many sounds. You did one helluva catcall.
 
When someone laughed, you would laugh. You mimicked a conversation; jibber-jabbering unrecognizable words in a mans deep voice. I taught you how to make an ambulance sound not realizing I was bobbing my head with each “whooo, whooo, whooo” and you picked up on that too. You learned how to cough as my “ex” did. When you heard a whistle you would whistle back.
 
Do you remember when Skeeter accidentally stepped on your foot? How the Vet said nothing was broken but you needed to be massaged? I would take you in my hands and gently rub your leg and toes. And once you caught a cold, runny nose and all and I had to give you antibiotics with a dropper.
 
Your squawking irritated most. It could be quite ear-piercing at times. It was just you saying you were hungry, you wanted out of your cage or you needed attention. You got very loud when I wasn’t in view or on the phone. When you were on my shoulder, you would go into attack mode, allowing no one near us. You would give them warning pecks and growl. You were my protector. You caused blood shed to a few fingers. When I woke up in the morning I would hear the familiar chirps. You would peak from under your cage blanket looking for me to uncover you and set you free so you could greet the day.
 
You spent countless hours on your tree perch, you always wanted to be near me. You would fly over to me, perch on my shoulder and sometimes walk up the back of the couch, where Hunter the cat was sleeping and torment him.
 
We took showers together, we did. You took baths in your water bowl, dunking your head and splashing the sliding glass door. You loved to take shoulder taxi rides, perched on me as I did chores. We spent loads of time on the computer, sometimes late into the night, where you would pick at my sparkly jewelry. You watched me drinking my coke and learned how to drink from my glass.
 
Remember the times I lost you? Once you flew up into the tree behind the garage and after many attempts of “ex” throwing rocks near you finally came down. One time the boys spooked you off the deck and you flew far away down past the back yard. I thought you were lost forever; we looked and looked for you. You were gone a couple days before “ex” finally found you wandering between the corn stalks, you looking up at him as if to say “what took you so long”? The third time you escaped we were alone on the deck enjoying the afternoon sun. You suddenly just flew off, fast and toward the busy road. I ran to see which way you went but lost you in the trees. I went home and waited and heard your screams far away. I ran barefoot through the woods and across the side street in the direction of your voice. It sounded as though you were up in the trees but I couldn’t see you. I knocked on the owner’s door to let them know I was on his property and he came out to help me. We couldn’t locate you – it was getting dark and you being green in all those trees was like the proverbial needle in a haystack. I slept on the couch that night- the slider door open so I could hear you. You woke me up about 6 a.m. with your screams and I ran to you. This time I spotted you, about as high up in that huge tree as you could get. You looked down and waited. Skeeter climbed that tree, fish net in hand – me praying the whole time – I was so scared for both of you. But he brought you back to me and I never let you outside again.
 
You changed. Perhaps the loneliness you felt from the recent loss of our dog Sweety? You spent 13 years alone with her while I worked. Maybe something you ate in that tree? You started that annoying picking of your tail feathers. No matter what I did, what cure-all parrot product I tried, you never stopped picking. I would yell at you until I cried. Put you on my shoulder to get you to stop. But you wouldn’t. The vet took all sorts of tests, shot you up with drugs and made me change your diet. I had to put that awful collar on your neck. It made you cry. We went to another Vet. It was all such a bad nightmare for us. You would  start to heal and then you would start up again. After many trips to  find a cure, I decided they weren’t helping you. I even gave up the collar. You were so much happier and I learned to accept you tail-less.
 
You were home waiting for me to return with newborn baby Scooter. You were there when I told that evil man you hated I wanted a divorce. You grew up with our family and even after the boys left home you were there for me.  Over twenty years you were here, home with me.
 
The  holidays have come and gone. I have noticed you have stopped eating. You are quiet and not as active. You spend more time in your cage. You fall off your tree stand. You no longer fly. You are growing weak. I ignore the food recommendations and start giving you all the foods you love, hoping it will give you strength. You eat but get no better. I hold you. I can feel the warmth of your body, your silky wing feathers on my neck. You just stand there, struggling for balance and I help you as you nestle your face into my hair. Tears run down my cheeks as I tell you I am so sorry. I know you are leaving us soon- this time for good.
 
I awake and you are quiet. I uncover your cage and you just stand there. I watch you and finally accept that we need to see the Vet one last  time.  It was terrible leaving you alone. I am so, so sorry. It was such an important day for Scooter. I hurry back, open the front door and call “Amo”!?! You don’t respond. I uncover your cage  and I can’t find you. Then I spot you, at the bottom, your back facing me. You stand there with your beak still grasping the rail and don’t acknowledge me as I softly say Amo one last time.
 
You are now near your doggie friend “Sweety” under the tree you viewed from the house. I am so saddened. You were such a big part of our family. I was supposed to go first. My family knew you were to be put to sleep and buried with me because I knew no one else would be able to take care of you. You were my bird. You didn’t have the trust in others. But now you go. Fly the blue skies high in the clouds with your feathered friends. I still feel you, I still hear your voice.
 
 But there is a sad, sad silence in our home. I miss you so much. Farewell my friend. My “pretty bird”. 
 
 
 Amos 
April 1997-January 2008
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