Today is the third anniversary of one of the saddest days of my life. Three years ago today, my beloved parakeet Sam died in my arms from cancer that destroyed one of his wings. It doesn’t seem like three years have passed already. I still miss him, and I still cry sometimes. He was part of our family for all but the first six months of his twenty-one years, in many ways like a child to me and a baby brother to Collin.
To honor his memory–and that of my first Sam, a canary-winged parakeet who was with me through my teen and college years, here’s an excerpt from my upcoming book, Sam’s Story: The Life and Times of a Tiny Bird with a Huge Personality….
“Since we’re both Sam, we have to distinguish ourselves,” Sam decided.
“Why?” I asked. “Obviously, if I say Sam, I’m not talking to myself.”
“That would be fine, if you were the only one who could see me,” he agreed.
“Obviously, Mom and Grandma can’t—or Grandma would have wrecked the car by now,” I said.
“They can’t see me, but other animals can,” he told me.
“The sausage dog will be able to see you?”
“Yep.” He gave it some thought. “I’m Sam One, and you’re Sam Two.”
I was mildly insulted. “Why do you get to be Sam One?” I wanted to know.
He regarded me with mock impatience. “Again, I was here first.”
“But you’re a…ghost,” I reminded him.
“I was still here first.”
“I don’t want to be Two,” I said stubbornly. “That’s like being second place.”
“What do you suggest, then?” he asked.
I gave it some thought. “I’m Sam Too,” I said finally.
“Isn’t that what I said?” he asked, confused.
“Not Two as in t-w-o, second place,” I told him. “Too, t-o-o, as in also.”
“Fair enough,” he agreed.
We sealed the deal with a high five. Ever seen birds high five? We do it the way it was meant to be done—with wings.
“Her name is Sandy,” Sam One told me.
She really did look like a big, fat sausage–a sausage with a head, a long pointed nose, and long, floppy ears. And a tail.
And she disliked us on sight.
“What are you two doing here?” she asked, looking up at us.
“We live here now,” I said defensively.
“He does, I don’t,” Sam One said. “I’m just visiting.”
“Chicken!” I told him.
He flapped his wings and made clucking sounds. He did a lousy chicken.
“If you ever come out of that cage, I’ll have you for lunch,” Sandy warned with a low growl. Then she turned and walked away.
“Nothing like a warm welcome,” I said.
“She’ll get over it,” Sam One told me.