Today I got a phone call.
I picked up the telephone. "Hello?"
"Taryn," a very somber voice said. Silence.
"Yeah?" I asked, trying to add some excitement to my voice to counteract the voice on the other end.
"I have some bad news for you," the voice on the other end told me.
My heart started racing. What happened?
"Pretty Bird died today."
I then recognized the voice as Kathy Kaufman's.
"NOOOO.... that is SO sad!"
"Taryn, my heart is broken," Kathy said, her voice very heavy and sad. It made me want to cry.
Ok, guys. Now. Let me just tell you a little story so you know why this is so sad.
Growing up, we always had a bird. Our first bird- Pretty Bird, was the neatest bird in the whole world. We taught it how to talk, how to do the wolf whistle, and he was like part of the family. Well, he died, and it was very sad... especially for a young girl like me. We tried to get a new bird, but that didn't work out because the new bird was really dumb. So we ended up trading him in for another...
Pretty Bird II. I was in third grade by this time, and each year at school, we have a program called "Young Authors" that I participated in. In first grade, I won the illustration award for my book, "My Trip to Arizona." In second grade, I won another illustration award for my book, "Why does my Brother Bug Me?" Now, in third grade, the idea for my book was easy to figure out... I would write about my bird. Thus, the book, "Pretty Bird II."
Below is the book... I was going to put up pictures of each page of the book, but it proved to be too much work so here is the cover with the words...
On my brother's tenth birthday, we went to the mall. He was going to buy a bird at the pet shop with his birthday money. There were hundreds of birds there.
I pointed to a big yellow bird... but my brother picked a blue one with a blue tummy and black, white, and blue striped wings and a white head. There were purple spots below his beak.
We took him home and named him Pretty Bird. We wanted to teach Pretty Bird how to whistle and say his name. Every day we would say "Pretty Bird" over and over to him and do the wolf whistle.
We also tried to teach him to kiss. One day he started to make kissing sounds back to us and he would try to kiss us with his beak. We were so excited!
And after awhile, he could say "Pretty Bird" in a high voice and a low voice, and all kidns of funny ways. When we did the dishes, he would squawk real loud at the water noise.
One morning, my brother and I were eating cold cereal and Pretty Bird was on my brother's shoulder. Pretty Bird thought our bowls of cereal were a bird bath. He flew into my brother's bowl of cereal and flapped his wings to clean himself. We laughed and laughed.
Pretty Bird rode on our shoulders all the time. One day, my brother took Pretty Bird to his room and left for school. Pretty Bird was missing. I looked all over the house for him. I whistled and he whistled back, but I still couldn't find him. My friend came over to help me. We heard him whistle in my brother's room. "There he is!" my friend shouted. "He's in the closet!" Pretty Bird was smashed between the hangers and the ceiling and looked really scared.
I would take Pretty Bird on rides, pulling him in a basket around the house. My brother said "Here, let me try," and he took him around in circles. I cried, "Stop! Stop!" Poor Pretty Bird... he was so dizzy, he was turning his head in circles.
Pretty Bird liked to sit in my mom's big plant. He thought he was pretty neat, like other birds. My mom didn't like it, though, becasue he ate holes in all the leaves.
One day, Pretty Bird stopped making noise. The house was so quiet. He jsut sat in his cage and wouldn't eat or sing. We took him to the vet, but there wasn't anything to do to make him better.
The next morning, I made my sister look to see if Pretty Bird was alright while I made my bed. When she came back upstairs, she looked sad. She said Pretty Bird died. I cried and cried.
We wrapped him in a white blanket and took him outside and dug a hole. We covered him with dirt and I put a stone on top and some of mom's flowers. I was so sad.
I made a poster about Pretty Bird so I would always remember him.
A few days later, my family and I went to the pet store to get a new bird. We missed Pretty Bird so much. This time, we got one that was bright green, and he sure didn't act like Pretty Bird.
This bird would get into his water dish and get all wet. He'd crawl into the food dish too, and get stuck. My mom took off the lid, but then he would sit in his food and spread it all over. My mom said, "This bird is a ditz, let's take it back!"
We went to a new pet store and looked at all their baby birds. Some were yellow, some all white, and some blue like Old Pretty Bird. We finally decided on one that looked like clouds in Heaven.
We had to teach him how to get on our finger and how to let us hold him. He still can't say his name or do a wolf whistle, but he loves to be petted around his neck, and he loves to make big swings with his sing.
Even though he's not our old Pretty Bird, we sure to love him.
He's our Pretty Bird II.
Shortly after that book was written, I won the general author award for it, but then I was asked to read the book aloud at a huge Young Author's Assembly at my school in front of all the other winners and their families.
I was SO nervous. I remember my mom helping me practice reading it, because I used to talk really fast (ok, STILL DO), and she wanted me to be understandable.
The night of the assembly came, and I just remember going up on stage with my book and reading it very loudly and clearly, and everyone laughed at some of the parts, which made me feel good.
After reading the book, the Disctrict Winners were announced. Guess what?! I won the district award for my book!
I was so excited!
Having that book about our "Pretty Birds" helped make them more special, and especially our most recent. Pretty Bird II definitely learned a lot while he was with us. We taught him how to say many things, how to whistle, and he had this one hot pink swing that he LOVED. He would sit on top of it for hours and talk into the little bell hanging off of it. I think he was in love with it.
There came a time, however, that we didn't really want him anymore. I know that sounds horrible, but no one paid as much attention to him, and although we loved him, we knew someone else would have more fun owning him. We gave him to our friend, Kathy, who at the time was a teacher at Lincoln School in Morton.
Pretty Bird lived at her house most of the year but during the school year, Kathy took Pretty Bird to school and he lived in the library there where she was the librarian. The kids at Lincoln School LOVED him and always talked to him and laughed when he talked. He was a hit, and I was so glad he was somewhere getting love from many different people!
I would go help Kathy in her classroom sometimes before the start of school and August, and it was always fun visitng Pretty Bird. Kathy would get mad at me because I knew exactly what to do to wind him up and make him wild, and she'd say, "Taryn! Stop it!" It made me laugh.
I have so many fond memoreis of Pretty Bird. Kathy wouuld always tell me funny stories at church of him and what he would do. Sometimes, I'd say, "Kathy, one of these days, you're going to call me and tell me that he died."
Well... that day was today.
Pretty Bird lived a happy 11 years. Although I am sad he is gone, I am also very glad that he got so much love from some many different people.
I know all dogs go to Heaven, and when my cat died, I wanted to believe that all cats did, too. I bet the same applies for birds. :-)
Love you all!