Tonawanda News — Here is a story about my friend who I am thankful for. If you mention her at the Thanksgiving table you will be remembered (for at least a year) as the person who perked up the dinner conversation.
About 15 years ago, I answered the landline at my parent’s house. The woman on the line spoke with a soulful richness and was replying to an ad that I had placed in the paper. My cockatiels were first-time parents and their babies had fledged the nest. Caring for three cockatiels was manageable but I was up to seven in one cage.
She came later that day with her adult daughter who drove her and was surprised on how young I was. She met my parents, a few years younger than herself, and quickly made us laugh by calling my father Big Ken. She loved how healthy and colorful the birds were, and gladly purchased a cockatiel along with a cage.
As she was walking out the door, she teased, “On the way to the house we were going slow looking for your address, and the neighbors looked at us like they have never seen a colored person before.”
At that moment, all five of us laughed, and we have stayed friends every since. Earlier this week, I called Georgia Hunt up and we reminisced about the past 15 years. I learned that she has lived in Niagara Falls since she was 4 years old and was born in Shannon, Miss.
“I love my birds, you started me with them. Remember?” she questions me in her purring Eartha Kitt voice. After she bought the first bird she called me every few day to give me updates. She had a room just for the bird with toys, music and ample space to explore. I stopped running the ad and forfeited the money I could have made by selling the birds and offered her two more birds for free. I delivered them to her downtown house and saw the bird room. It was just like she described.
“I take good care of them. Sometimes I think they have too many toys, so I pull them to the side and rearrange them,” she told me on the phone. “You know what they love Kenny Coogan? They like jazz. Oh they love jazz, when I leave the house I turn the radio up for them. And I turn the TV on for Portia. Do you know what she loves?”
Portia is her young chihuahua dog. What I asked, she replied, “Cartoons. And at night, she watches Law and Order. I woke up at 4 a.m. and she is looking straight at the TV watching Law and Order. I guess she likes the music — dun dun…”
We then talked about our families and mutual friends we have gained. I then shared with her all the new happenings in my world and asked her a little more about her pets. Like all of us, she is aging; she also lives alone and now has four cockatiels — and Portia. You might think it would be easier for her to care just for herself, but her pets keep her going.
“Why do I like them so much? They are like people, and they are friendly. I like to watch them do their own things, I like how they eat their food, drink their water, do their own business. They are my best friends, too. I am crazy about them.”
Georgia sometimes has trouble with movement in her arm, but when she walks in the bird room, they give her strength. Smokey, Grey, Yellow, Mellow and Portia are her children. She visits with the birds off and on all day.
“My favorite thing about the birds is the color. I love their colors. They each have their own personality. They know me. They like when I wear a flowered shirt, colorful, bright colors. They will fly to you when you have yellow, orange and lime green shirts on.”
This year when you are passing the mashed potatoes, don’t just remember your long-time friends. Invite them over or give them a call. Reminisce about the old times and learn some new things.
Kenny Coogan, CPBT-KA has a bachelor’s degree in animal behavior. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org, or search for “Critter Companions by Kenny Coogan” on Facebook.