Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Memories of a Feathered Friend

Every time I see a parrot, my mind flashes back to another place and another time.

A bittersweet feeling comes over me, filling my heart, and then come the tears.

We were living far away in San Salvador, the capital of El Salvador, Central America. A newlywed, I still missed my family, country, and the American culture. Anyone who has ever lived in a different country knows that culture shock is real. The person living in a foreign land begins to miss "comfort bits," or all things familiar.

Having a foreign living experience can be very gratifying. One gets to learn, first hand, about another culture. Everything is done differently than one is accustomed. There are new places to go and towns to visit. The food can be unique and shopping in bustling, colorful outdoor markets is quite an experience.

However, living in a strange place can also be very challenging and difficult. The native language is no longer one's own. Customs are totally different and sometimes it's easy to feel like an outsider.

To keep me company in El Salvador, I bought a parrot. His feathers were a gorgeous shade of green. He loved coming out of his cage to take over our household. He needed a unique name to set him apart from other parrots. My father's ethnic background was Lithuanian and "Perkunas" happened to be the name of a Lithuanian thunder god. Perfect!

So my parrot's name became "Perkunas." He turned out to be a very friendly bird. He chattered non-stop but after awhile, some of the chatter actually turned into words. It was thrilling in the way a parent hears her baby speak her first words.

"Hallo, hallo" coming from the beak of my sweet parrot made me smile every day. "Hallo Perkunas," I would say back. "How is my baby bird today?" He'd flutter his wings and cock his head to one side, turning into quite the ham. He enjoyed spending time on a sunny perch on our outdoor patio. He became a fixture in our home and was very, very loved!

We practiced new words hour after hour and his vocabulary expanded, much to my total delight. I felt like a teacher of elocution. My student was the absolute pizazz.

When ready to return to the States, we planned to take Perkunas with us. I had papers drawn up for him as well as all the veterinary exams completed. However, at the last moment, due to a series of unforeseen circumstances, we were unable to take Perkunas with us.

A Salvadorian woman, Maria, had been living with us full-time, to do most of the cooking and washing of clothes by hand. She agreed to take good care of my parrot.

It was a sad day in my life when I had to say goodbye to Perkunas. He nibbled a hole right into my heart. I couldn't bear to look back when we left our house for the very last time.

Since then, I've never had another parrot. Once is enough because there will just never be another Perkunas. After a couple of letters, Maria stopped writing and was never heard from again.

You know how they say memories are like roses in December? For me, they are more like a totally sweet parrot in the tropics!



Chatty Crone said...

I am sorry you lost Perkunas. That had to really be a blow and then to not know where she is anymore.

I have not really lost a pet, that is the only good thing about allergies.


diane stetson said...

I had two parakeets when I was a little girl and loved them...unfortunately they actually killed eachother...now that was a sad day! bye bye perkunas ..I hope you are still alive as parrots outlive humans.

BECKY said...

Another beautiful story, Susan! And what a beauty Perkunas was. I've lost a couple of pets. One was our flop eared bunny. We bought him for our youngest son's birthday, and we never knew pet rabbits were so social! The saddest loss though was our dog, Rocky. He was 14 years old and I cried for weeks. Our beloved dog, Tiger, is now 13, so that's an additional reason to love and spoil her even more than usual! :)

BECKY said...

Oh, I forgot to say that I, too, lived in a foreign country. I lived in Germany, 2 different times during my marriage to my first husband. He was in the Army. I was sooooo young and homesick, especially that first tour!

Anonymous said...

I had a budgie named BABy...she was the friendliest ever! she'd wash dishes with me, licking the shiney chrome sink taps and playing in the soapy bubbles...she occassionaly flew into my bubble bath with me...
always liked to be on my shoulders!

my mom put the cage outside for the day, so that baby could enjoy the beautiful summer air, and then a gust of wind must have knocked the cage over and she flew out. had I been there, she would have come right to me, but I didn't come home until several hours later, and she was long gone and lost by then.
I still miss her...she was young and had quite a lot of years ahead with me!...
i'll stop now, before I tear up...
thanks for sharing, thanks for asking!

Anonymous said...

by the way, I'm going to follow you now!

come by and see my blog too, anytime is good for me, I'll just be sure to leave my 'screen' door open to you!


Susan said...

Hi Sandie! I'm glad you never lost a pet. So glad you came to visit.

Hello Diane! So sorry your two parakeets. They must have been like Cain and Abel. You are right. Perkunas might still be alive somewhere in El Salvador and might outlive me!

And Becky, SOOOOO sorry you lost Rocky. It's so hard to lose a pet but I feel they are always with us. I'm so glad tiger is still with you.

Carmelina! Welcome, welcome! I am SO HAPPY you have decided to follow my blog. I'm going to follow yours, too, because I can see you put your heart and soul into it. Come visit often, okay? Sincerely, and dearest hugs to all, Susan

LDH said...

Hello Susan! So sweet reading about Perkunas although sad that he wasn't able to leave the country with you.

I also enjoyed reading your "Home" post!

Nice visiting with you!
Kindly, ldh

Crown of Beauty said...

"Meet regularly with someone who holds vastly different views than you."

I love this quote that you wrote on your sidebar.

It is so true.

But there is a way that people who are like me in a different way that simply warms my heart. To discover that there is another woman whose heart beats like mine, and whose thoughts are somewhat similar to mine!

I discovered your blog through Rebecca's recent post. And I browsed around a bit... and here I am with tears in my eyes after reading this post about Perkunas. Oh, what a heartbreak... I can't bear the thought of you not being able to take this amazing pet back home with you.

Your thoughts about living in a foreign land with a different culture and language describe my own experiences of living in Chiang Mai, Thailand a couple of years ago. I come from the Philippines, and Thailand is only three hours away, but the culture was so different... and yes I know what you mean.

I have looked at the lovely pictures on your blog...they brought a smile to my face because I also love photography - taking pictures of the simple, everyday things - "slices" of my life journey is one thing that also brings me much joy.

I am SOOOO glad I dropped by your blog today.


Susan said...

Hello LDH and Lidj! SOOOO happy you both came to visit.

Lidj, thank you also for following my blog! You cannot imagine how happy that makes me!

Thanks to both of you for commenting, too. Hope you have a great weekend! Sincerely, Susan

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