Widow sang duets with ‘smart little critter’

From our April 2014 issue

By Ruth Jeeves – Wolseley, Sask.

My father was a veterinarian in Regina, Sask., from 1913 to 1969. Growing up as his helper, I made many wonderful memories. This one stands out in my mind.

A widow and her son, John, lived in an apartment block in the city. After his dad passed away, John bought a parrot for his mother, thinking it would be good company for her. She had my dad come to her home to check the parrot’s health and advise on how to care for her new pet.

John was attending university at the time and was kept busy with his studies. Still, he always took time to talk to the parrot and even taught it to speak a few words. He soon became attached to the bird and called it a “smart little critter.”

John’s mother loved music. She enjoyed singing while she performed her chores. One day, the parrot surprised her by singing a few words of her song. It gave her an idea. She would keep singing a line over and over to see if the parrot could really learn it. To her surprise, it didn’t take long.

As time went by, she and the parrot would sing little duets together. John was amazed at the learning ability of their new pet.

His mother told him she began listening for his footsteps on the stairs when he came home and would say to the parrot: “Here comes John!” It wasn’t long before the parrot copied her. Soon, the bird learned to recognize his footsteps as he walked up the apartment stairs and would holler out: “Here comes John!”

John eventually graduated, joined the work force, and continued to live with his mother. In time, he was promoted to a higher position in Ontario. He really didn’t want to move so far away, but his job required it. He assured his mother he would phone often.

It would be better than writing letters, he told her. He also said he could then talk to the ‘smart little critter’ on the phone too. John kept his word and phoned his mother often. The parrot even learned to recognize John’s voice on the telephone and would holler, “Hello! Hello!”

Life carried on and several years went by. Then one day, both the parrot and John’s mother were having their afternoon nap. Suddenly, the parrot hollered: “Here comes John! Here comes John!”

“You silly bird, John isn’t here!” she said, but just then, the door opened and in came John, all smiles.

After hugs and kisses, he told his mother he didn’t phone first because he wanted to surprise the two of them. As it turned out, he was the surprised one when his mother told him, “The smart little critter announced your arrival.”

After all those years, the parrot had remembered the sound of John’s footsteps.