I spent the better part of my teenage years living in a house next to my maternal grandmother. I would frequently drop in to see her and talk about life. Her house was a very modest brick bungalow with a large front porch and a swing. She was not a warm and fussy lady, but she always seemed to enjoy my frequent visits.

To me she always seemed very old and very lonely. Like her, her home was simple and functional and filled with her tired and worn possessions.

Granny had an old vinyl Barcalounger recliner in her living room where she would sit at night watching television with the lights off. She spent a lot of time in that chair, seemingly marking time.

In preparation for college I dropped by Granny’s house for one of our evening chats of a very important nature. For a decade I had owned a pet parrot named Harold,  a very angry and misbehaved pet.

When visitors would stop at our house he would bite at them and screech very loudly. For years my attempt at taming had failed. My grandmother didn’t have a pet and I thought for some strange reason she might enjoy the company of Harold.

I said, “Granny, would you like to adopt my parrot?” She immediately said “No,” but then gave me a look and said, “… maybe.”

I told her if it didn’t work out I would find another home for him. One week later she agreed to foster my bird. I brought him to her house and placed his cage next to her favorite chair. That was in the autumn. I left for college and didn’t see her again until Christmas of that year.

When I got home that December, I immediately went over to Granny’s house. I turned the doorknob and walked into her living room. There sat Granny, asleep in her easy chair, with Harold sitting on her shoulder. The bird did not make a sound. I quietly said hello and she awakened. Harold awoke and started rubbing his beak against her hair affectionately. The bird had changed. He didn’t make a noise and quietly and majestically sat next to my grandmother. Miraculously, she had tamed the parrot, and they seemed like a perfectively matched pair. She had grown to love that bird, and it appeared he had grown to love her.

Time passed and I would occasionally get back to visit my grandmother. Those two remained the best of companions and always seemed in harmony.

Ten years passed. I moved away, making it difficult to return home. The next time I would see her, she delivered the sad news that Harold had died late in March. Almost one month later to the day, my mother called me to share the sad news that my grandmother had peacefully died in her sleep. To this day I think there was a very special bond between those old birds.


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