Anna Troppens and our bird Henry

 About 16 years ago we moved to Fenton.

 I had just started my current job and we decided to purchase our first home. I also promised my wife Anna once we were established  we could get a cockatiel. Anna made sure that meant we’d have one in a couple of weeks.

 I’m extremely allergic to just about any type of animal, and they trigger my asthma. Anna is a total pet person, so I have to find a nice compromise. A bird named Henry seemed like a happy middle ground versus cats and dogs that would send me to the emergency room.

 Over the years, Henry has had his good and bad moments. I am convinced to truly be an outstanding bird owner, you have to be a little crazy, spending most of your free time with your bird. They are clearly more demanding than any other animal I’ve owned previously.  And if they don’t get it, they’ll let you know, frequently. For such a small bird, Henry is a tremendous squawker. And through the first 10 years of his life, if he wanted you up at 7 a.m., he’d make sure you were up at 7 a.m.

 Through the years, I haven’t been the greatest cockatiel owner. I’ve lost my patience with Henry plenty of times. There have been times I wished we didn’t have our feathered family member. I’ve yelled at him to ‘shut up’ (probably making him louder in the process) and have flat out tried to avoid him. That’s particularly true when he goes through his mating seasons.

   But while we’ve had our struggles between each other (I guess who doesn’t have their struggles with teenagers, ours just happens to be a bird) we’ve certainly had our great moments. When we are both laying on the floor, he’s always entertaining. It’s always pretty cool when he decides he wants to stand on you for a couple of hours. And it’s always a blast when we get in a chirping session with each other. I like to whistle popular songs to see if Anna can guess the song and to entertain Henry. He’ll almost always start chirping with me when I do this, even if he is a couple of rooms away. Indeed, being a bird owner has its pluses as well.

 About two weeks ago we received some terrible news. Henry had a lump forming and the prognosis was inoperable cancer. The doctor told us Henry has about two months to live. The news has hit us pretty hard.

 Our goal is now to be the greatest cockatiel owners we possibly can be for Henry as he goes through his final days. He’s come to depend on us more than ever before, and we make sure he gets his needs attended to.  However, through the sad times, we are having our share of great moments with Henry.

 Just last night while I laid on the floor doing some work on my laptop, Henry spent two hours nestled between my arms below my head. I constantly told him he’s our family. And through his nuzzles, he’s seemingly suggesting the same thought. It’s a sad time. There’s no doubt about that. But I wouldn’t trade this time with Henry for anything.

 We don’t know when Henry’s final day will come. It’s something we try not to talk too much about. But one thing is clear, we’ll both miss our feathered buddy. And, certainly through his final days, he’s made both of us better people as we learn more about ourselves.

 Thanks, Henry.

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