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Red, White and Belew

July 4, 2014

When I started dating my former wife, Tina, after the Christmas season in January of 1992, she had a blue-colored parakeet she had named Belew. Belew was so named because it sounded like “blue” and there was a singer named Adrian Belew that Tina liked. Belew was a very special bird and had a lot of personality.

When I met Belew I sensed that he was Tina’s guard bird or guardian angel. He ruled the roost protectively and was not shy about letting you know it.

But Belew seemed to like and trust me. They say animals have a 6th sense for things. And I was very trustworthy and had sincere affection for Tina.

Tina was very affectionate toward Belew and I could tell cared for him very much.

Tina had taught Belew to mimic a couple of phrases including, “Hi, Belew” and “I love you” which he mimicked eloquently.

Belew was often allowed out of his cage to fly around the small apartment he and Tina lived in. It was an adjustment for me to get used to Belew fly past and around my head. Belew was in control, but it took a while for me to understand that and trust him. The flutter of his wings around my head made me nervous at first. I soon got more and more comfortable with Belew flying around me as time went by.

Tina had a small silver bell in her Christmas tree, that she kept up long after the Christmas season, which Belew liked to perch next to, marvel at his own reflections in, and peck a kiss at it which would ring the bell. He rang that bell a lot. It was very precious.

As I got comfortable with Belew, and he got comfortable with me, Belew would land on my head or shoulder. He would perch there, sing or garble some message that was lost in translation, then fly away. Sometimes he would leave an unwelcome present there before he left. That was gross. But he was too adorable to be mad at for very long.

Growing up two of my favorite happy songs were Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah from the Song of the South movie and Somewhere Over The Rainbow from The Wizard of Oz movie, both of which have happy references to bluebirds. Below are videos of these warm-hearted classics that I love and remind me of Belew whenever I hear them.

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As my love for Tina grew, so did my affection for Belew. It was as if we had our own little ‘blue bird’ of happiness flying around and singing sweet and happy songs to us.

Belew loved to eat people food, but his favorite was spaghetti. He would take a strand of spaghetti and whip it around in his beak as if it was a worm, take it to a safe place and then rapidly eat it until it was gone and then come back and beg for more. When he got more he would do the same again and again. He seemed to have no limit to the amount of pasta he could eat. After we were married, when we had pasta at dinner and Belew was out of his cage, Belew would dive bomb attack our plates trying to get some pasta. We would have to eat dinner with one arm wrapped around our plates to keep Belew away from our food. Tina put some spaghetti with her delicious red pasta sauce on it on a small white plate on our table so Belew didn’t feel left out and would temporarily leave our dinner plates alone as long as his plate had some pasta on it. He would pick up the spaghetti, shake it around like a worm, put it down and start devouring it rapidly. He ate a lot of pasta.

I soon taught Belew to mimic “Hi, Tina” in addition to the other phrases he already knew.

After a while, we got another bird, this one a grey cockatiel, to keep Belew company while we were away. We named that bird Steely after the band Steely Dan because we likes that band and the birds grey color resembled the color of steel. Belew and Steely got along well enough – as long as they had separate cages they could be good neighbors to one another.

A couple years later, on the 4th of July, Belew had been sick for a few days and Tina was very concerned for his well being. It was summer, but he was just lying around the bottom of his cage shivering. She held him in her hand a lot to give him comfort, affection and warmth.

We were going to a 4th of July party and Tina needed to get ready. She asked me if I would hold Belew while she showered. I did.

While Tina showered, I held Belew in the palm of my hand. He just layed there shivering. It was sad to see my little friend suffering.

Suddenly, Belew started to slowly outstretch and extend his tiny wing. He had it outstretched for but a second, then the wing folded back up to his side. The shivering, and all movement, stopped. Belew was dead. It truly seemed to me as if Belew had waved goodbye to me just before dying. I started to cry.

It was the first time I had ever witnessed the moment of death, except for maybe any bugs I had ever squashed. But bugs weren’t Belew. And Belew was a family member. And I wept.

Then, I had to break the news of the Belew’s passing to Tina when she got out of the shower. I did.  And I wept some more.

The death of our adorable little feathered friend Belew hit me hard. I had never had a pet other than a goldfish, and now I understood the grief that so many people feel at the passing of a beloved pet.

We buried Belew in a small box in my parent’s back yard, and there he rests to this day, on this anniversary of his passing, to the best of my calculations, 19 (or maybe 18) years ago today.

Unfortunately, and sadly, I found no photos of Belew in a search through photo albums. But this is a photo of a blue parakeet that looks very similar to Belew.

Not Belew, but rather a photo of a similar looking blue parakeet

Not Belew, but rather a photo of a similar looking blue parakeet

But I will always fondly remember Belew as long as I live.

Rest in peace, my fine feathered friend. I hope to see you again someday…maybe somewhere over the rainbow.

 

“If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow, why, oh, why can’t I?”

(“Over the Rainbow” (often referred to as “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”) is a classic Academy Award-winning ballad from The Wizard of Oz movie as sung by Judy Garland, with music by Harold Arlen and lyrics by E.Y. Harburg)

 

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