Saturday, May 24, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #322

Granted, Tick is an unusual name for a cockatiel bird. But that is what I named the little chirper who caught my ear when I entered the local pet store a few months ago.

Years ago I bought over 100 of these small birds from a traveling vagabond on the way to Florida. I had the bright idea of raising them for fun and profit. That was back when ours boys, one by birth, one adopted, were around 12-years-of age.

Bobby had little interest, so Charlie became the budding entrepreneur. Looking back, it was probably was not a good idea. My intent was teaching responsibility and giving an opportunity to earn extra pocket money. Charlie was keen at first, willingly giving up the abandoned tree house for an aviary.

The experiment lasted about as long as the worm farm, but though his interest waned, my love of birds continued. Eventually I earned a certificate in ornithology from Cornell University just because. Dabbling in new experiences has been the story of my life, but back to Tick.

Tick went home with me the day I discovered him in the pet shop. I was on a mad dash to get back to school after a quick lunch. I constantly glanced at my watch, thinking tick, tock, tick, tock. The friendly clerk seemed oblivious to time whereas I am a perpetual clock watcher. Tick seemed an appropriate name for my new little friend and it stuck. I was duly warned at the pet shop that Tick was an escape artist.

I have never been one for single animals. About a week later, I added Tock, a yellow female cockatiel. Tick was elated with his new girlfriend and sang to her daily. He even learned the first few bars of the Andy Griffin theme song. Our Siamese cat, Sam, lay contently on the floor listening to Tick chirp or sing. He never seemed even remotely interested in harming either of the birds.

When the weather started turning warmer, we moved Tick and Tock to the screened front porch. I even added a home-made nesting box in hopes of future Tockettes.

My afternoon routine included playing with Tick and Tock, changing the cage papers, and adding new food. One recent day Tick was not in the cage. The safety clip was still in place on the front door. I knocked on the nesting box, but no response.

I called for Tick, but no familiar chirp returned. I started searching the porch and, alas, found a pile of white feathers and a hole in the screen where Sam apparently had made his entry.

To this day, I don’t know how Tick got out of the cage unless he managed to pull the seed slide door. It is so small that he would have had to struggle to get through it.

It has been less than a week since the loss. Tock is lonely and I check on her often. Today she left me a gift...a tiny white egg. She must have a mate. So off to the pet store I go in search of a new Tick.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Journal of a Living Lady #321

Nancy White Kelly

The month of May is one of the busiest for the Living Lady. Being a school administrator means being involved in lots of activities. I have been to the community playgrounds, eaten hot dogs, taken trips, given awards and still have much ahead: baccalaureate services, athletic banquets, dress-up dinners, and then, of course, there is graduation.

Behind the scenes there are board meetings, parent interviews, phone calls, teacher interviews, curriculum reviews and numerous end-of-the-year class parties. Believe me, these are just the highlights.

For someone with cancer, it seems miraculous that I have functioned well enough to lead in the educational arena again, but my passion is still to write, teach and speak. This unexpected thrust into the working world again has been rewarding, but hopefully I will be able to focus again on being a wife, mother and grandmother soon.

Sunday was Mother’s Day. Buddy wanted to buy me something special. While I appreciated the thought, I gently reminded him that he wasn’t my mother. My boys did remember and that was nice. The cards and calls brought back memories of my own mother who was our family’s version of Lucille Ball. She loved her five children with all her heart.

On the day of her funeral, my youngest brother stopped for gas at a convenience store. After pumping the gas, he waited patiently in front of the cash register while another young man, probably in his twenties, fumed. The fellow complained that his mother had him leave the football game he was watching on television to go buy some milk. He threw the money on the counter in a childish display of anger.

My brother tapped him on the shoulder. “Be glad you have a mother still. I just buried mine.” The young man dropped his head and meekly left without a word.

As busy as we are, we should never be too busy to remember those who are so special to us, but not just on special days. Several years ago, before the world was the crazy place it is now, a man stopped at a florist to order some flowers to be wired to his mother who lived 200 miles away. As he got out of his car, he noticed a young teen-age girl sitting on the curb sobbing.

He asked her what was wrong and she replied, "I wanted to buy a red rose for my mother. But I only have 75 cents and a rose cost 2 dollars."

The kind man smiled and said "Come with me. I'll buy you a rose." He bought the girl her rose and ordered his own mother's flowers.

As they were leaving, he offered the girl a ride home. She hesitated but said, "Yes, please! Take me to my mother."

She directed him to a cemetery several blocks away. As they approached a freshly dug grave, she jumped from the car and ran. With tears streaming from her face, she placed the rose on the heap of dirt.

The man returned to the flower shop, cancelled the wire order, picked up a bouquet and drove the 200 miles to his mother's house.