by Sharon M. Kennedy
In the 1970s, I lived in the Detroit area. When I came home for a visit, I always brought presents for my parents. Often they were silly ones such as a three-foot-long box of Sander’s candy. Mom had a ball with that box. As it emptied, she kept refilling it with Russell Stover or Whitman chocolates. I don’t know if guests were aware of the switch, or if they thought the candy magically multiplied itself.
Dad was proud of all the Irish gifts I gave him. The miniature flag of Ireland was always on display as were the Irish calendars he hung on the kitchen wall. He delighted in his wooden shillelagh and threatened to deliver a hardy blow to any relative who borrowed a tool and wouldn’t return it. But the present Dad treasured the most had nothing to do with his Irish heritage. What was it that stole Dad’s heart? A ridiculous blue parakeet he christened Rochester.
I hated that bird. When my cat died from cancer, my Greek friend, Yorgo, bought me two parakeets. Fern was my favorite because she was green. Her brother was blue. One day when I came home from work, Fern was lying at the bottom of the cage. She was dead, and her brother was preening as if to say, “Look what I did.” I disposed of Fern and commanded Yorgo to take the blue monster but he refused. So did all our friends. I had no choice but to put the felon in the cage, put the cage in my car, and drive to the Upper Peninsula. I deposited the hoodlum on my parents’ doorstep. Dad said it was the best thing I ever did. He lavished that stinking thug with all the love and attention he had lavished on his children. Dads are a strange lot. Be good to yours if he’s still with you. You’ll miss him when he’s gone.