I came by my love of animals via the Hippy and Grandma Jane and Papa Dale! The Hippy never once told me “no” I couldn’t have an animal – most likely because my grandparents never told him “no”. When the Hippy was a boy my grandmother got a Double-Yellow Head Parrot that she named Chew Chew (because he chewed everything up). Parrots live 70 years on average and usually only bond with one or two people in their lifetimes. Chew Chew chose my grandmother and my dad. Papa used to swear that Chew Chew would go out of his way to seek my grandfather out and bite him every single day! Chew Chew’s cage was always in the kitchen and my grandmother never clipped his wings. When she was home his cage was always open and he was flying freely throughout the house. Over the course of his life my grandmother had several different dog packs and Chew Chew knew all their names and never mixed them up. Before I was born Chew Chew called my grandfather “Dale” but anytime I was around he would call him “Papa”. Chew Chew would even play hide and seek with you. My grandmother has a kitchen cabinet that refused to stay open and anytime you opened it the cabinet would close (the hinges didn’t work right). Well, if Chew Chew was not sitting on top of his cage; or on top of the refrigerator dropping dog bones to the dogs; or in my grandmothers office on top of her filing cabinets all you would have to say is “Chew Chew where are you”. If you listened you could hear him respond “I’m hiding and what sounded like a giggle” (he loved getting in that cabinet and having it shut the door on him). Every single time the Hippy would visit my grandmother Chew Chew would get very excited to see him UNLESS he was holding me! Chew Chew was incredibly jealous of me and as a small child I was terrified of him! My grandmother has pictures of me running down the hall screaming because Chew Chew was chasing me but in reality he was slowly doing a bird walk after me! One day the Hippy was trying to show me how nice Chew Chew was (so I wouldn’t be so scared of him) but he was holding me at the time. The Hippy walked over to Chew Chew and puckered his lips for a kiss (something the Hippy probably had done a thousand times at this point). Chew Chew runs over and bites the Hippy splitting his lip open! This did not help me think Chew Chew was super sweet by the way! Kids really only hear things they understand and it wasn’t till I was a teenager that I figured out what Chew Chew was saying whenever he would see the Hippy enter my grandmother’s kitchen via the garage and then walk outside. Anytime the Hippy did this exact pattern Chew Chew would say “wanna smoke a joint”! Apparently when my dad was a teen he would lean into Chew Chew’s cage and say that everytime he would go outside to smoke a joint! Chew Chew also caused lots of problems when I was a baby. When I was one or two my grandparents went to their house in Mexico for a month or so and naturally my dad took Chew Chew while they vacationed. One day Debbie had me down for a nap and she was cleaning the house with the windows open. Debbie didn’t trust Chew Chew as much as my grandmother did so she didn’t let him fly around the house all day long. Chew Chew being so smart quickly learned that when baby Heather cried everyone came running so Chew Chew learned to mimic my exact cry and he did this whenever he wanted something and I was around. Debbie walks into the kitchen and sees 3 little old ladies trying to look into her kitchen window and they are whispering and pointing because what they can hear a block away is a baby screaming when in reality it is a bad tempered parrot who wants his way! Debbie told the Hippy all this when he came home that night and after he quit laughing he devised a plan. He moved Chew Chew’s cage outside that everning and I was playing in the yard on a blanket. Eventually everyone on the block stopped over to see me and they would see Chew Chew and the Hippy would tell the story of the badly behaved bird that could mimic the babies cry! Debbie said you could see the relief on all the neighbors faces! When I was 12 or 13 I let Chew Chew out of his cage at dinner time while my grandmother was cooking. (He had routines for different times of the day). In the evening (when my grandmother would come home from work) he would feed the dogs treats. I open the cage and Chew Chew would fly to the top of the fridge and he would lift the lid off the glass cookie jar (held dog bones). He would call each dog (by the correct name) and he would take a bite of their dog biscuit and drop it to the dog (my grandmother had tons of photos of this). On this day the cookie jar was low so he reached in and fell into the jar! My grandmother turns off the stove, grabs the cookie jar, and we head straight to the vet. The doctor had to sedate Chew Chew and break the jar to get him free. My grandmother never replaced the jar and I swear he missed it after that! Chew Chew was around for my entire childhood and I was supposed to inherit him (I loved him dearly). Sadly one day when I was 20 he pulled a feather in the night (normal) but this time the blood didn’t coagulate and he died. I am still very sad by this.
I spoke to the Hippy finally. The real shocker is he answered when the step-monster was home (she even cleared her throat once and he still didn’t hang up with me)! He said he is starting to feel a little better since his radiation treatments ended several weeks ago. He saw his doctor this week and he wouldn’t give me an exact weight number but said things like “it comes and goes” and “it’s more or less that” when I asked if he still weighed 107 pounds (he is six feet tall). I had Barney (my grandmothers dog that my husband wanted to take in after she passed away) in the car with me as I was talking to him while driving to work so he asked about Barney and we discussed him most of the conversation. I did ask him if he knows when the doctors will perform another CT scan to check his tumors. He said he thought it would be end of May or beginning of June but to his knowledge it is not scheduled yet. He went on to explain that his doctors (VA Hospital) are not in a super hurry to check on the tumors because once they discover it has progressed to the brain they are done with treatment (at least that’s what they said in the beginning of all this). I know a lot of people may not understand how disconnected my dad and I are but right now I have never been so happy that we are. I have always believed that people know certain things and he knew that he neeeded to raise me to be strong and independent. Moving out at 16 was not crazy to me or to anyone that knew my family. Having my dad gone for 10 years was not strange. Marrying a man my dad had only met one time two years prior was not strange. It was what it was! I still pray for peace every day for my Hippy!