"Ugh, I am so full that I could go to sleep right here in the car." I moaned. "You may have to carry me into the house when we get home."
"I know!" Eleven-year-old Cory exclaimed. "We could go walking in the mall like we usually do." Rob and I smiled our agreement. Our very favorite place to visit was the pet store. We stopped to watch the puppies romp around their glass cage, laughing at their tumbling and nipping before going inside.
"Oh, Honey, look at all the little canaries. They have a Red Factor one. He is absolutely beautiful." Rob reminded me of how difficult it was when Topper passed, but I told him I thought I might be ready to get another. After all it had been over ten years ago. "Besides, it would be a great Christmas gift." I hinted. Rob said he would 'think about it' with a wink.
On Christmas morning, Rob's eyes sparkled as he insisted I open his present first. I held my breath in anticipation hoping it had something to do with the red canary. With child-like excitement, I ripped the wrapper from the gift to find a little blue bird cage inside. I hugged Rob tight, "You got the red canary?"
"Well, when I went back to get it, it was gone." Rob said sadly. "I am sorry, but I put my name on a list, and when I called the other day, they still did not have one. They said to check back next week."
I called the next week only to be told that they were waiting to hear from their aviary. My mind raced as I got the phone book and thought, "Why don't I just go straight to an aviary myself?" I called the closest one, and yes, they had a Red Factor canary. I went to look at him the next day, and he was just what I wanted.
Two days went by, and I still could not decide what to call him. He would start his warbler trill with a little chuckle before it, so I thought maybe I would call him Chuckles. But, that just did not sound or feel right. I walked over to his cage and asked, "Okay, little red canary, what is your name?" He tweeted, "Sweet-Sweetie-Sweet." "Sweetie!" I squealed in delight. "Your name is Sweetie!" As if sensing my excitement, he sang his melodious canary warble for me.
Sweetie and I developed our own sing-song language over the next year. I could be in the kitchen and call, "Sweet-Sweetie-Sweet," and he would answer back from the living room "Sweet-Sweetie-Sweet". Sometimes he would echo, "Sweet-ta-dee". He would then continue with his own thrilling tune.
My five-year-old grandson, Darin, came to spend Fridays with me, and had been given strict orders from the beginning to never touch Sweetie. "He is very tiny and we have to be very careful not to hurt him. Stay back and listen to his pretty song." Five months passed with no worries.
One day he came to me and said, "Nana, Sweetie won't wake up." My heart seemed to stop and wrench in horrific pain as I went to the cage and saw Sweetie lying breathless on the bottom. A part of me thought I was dreaming as I picked my Sweetie up and knew he was past reviving. The tears poured down my face uncontrollably while I imagined the horror he must have felt before he died.
I tried to regain some self-control and explained to Darin that Sweetie was gone and that I could not fix him. I asked him what happened and he said, "Sweetie wasn't eating, so I tried to make him eat." He showed me with his hands how he had taken the bird and forced his head into his food dish to make him eat. In response to my look of horror, he began to cry hysterically, so I put him on my lap and held him while we cried together.
I take my comfort in believing that Sweetie is now singing a wonderful new song in Heaven. I see him fluttering around Jesus' head or maybe sitting on his shoulder as he whistles in his ear. "Thank you, Jesus, for sharing this precious creature with me. I look forward to seeing him again one day." Perhaps we will greet each other with our Sweet-Sweetie-Sweet melody.
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