Old World Aviaries

A Loving Lie

By Cecil Perkins

The little girl was sick with an incurable illness that only God in heaven could cure. Milly was only six years old, beautiful, blonde-headed, dimpled, and graceful, as well as being the apple of her parents’ eyes.

Before the illness hit, she had developed an enduring love for birds. The passion possessed her to pressure her father into purchasing a Double Yellow-headed Amazon that she named Dede.

Dede became her constant companion, eating and even showering with her—the focus of her young life. In return, she kept her promise to make her bed, tidy up her bathroom, care for Dede, and Jason was bought right after Dede had been sexed and found to be female. Big, bright, yellow-headed Jason who could talk a blue streak, sit on your shoulder, and sing along with the radio. Milly liked Jason, and a little girl’s cup runnethed over.

What could be more exciting for this precious child than babies from Jason and Dede? Every morning, every day, and even sometimes at night, Milly would look into the nest box that her father had built to see if there were eggs.

And one day, lo and behold, the first egg appeared as if by magic! Then two days later, another. And Dede covered these eggs and refused to leave the nest. Jason continued to bring her food and water in his bill, and nature was firmly at work when the illness hit Milly.

First there was a fever that confined Milly to bed followed by chills that racked her young body causing an inability to keep food on her stomach. The doctor was called, and Milly was taken to the hospital where things only worsened.

Soon Milly had tubes inserted into her nose and arms. Later an oxygen tent was placed over her head. The doctors were baffled. The cause of the illness was unknown. Test and try as modern medicine could, nothing turned up. Testing continued.

The only interest that Milly seemed to have in life or the will to live was conversation about Dede and Jason and when their eggs would hatch. So, it was a disaster when, while spraying the house for pests, both Jason and Dede breathed the spray and passed away.

The parents were crushed, but they couldn’t tell Milly. She must not know because that was all that she had to live for, and with this knowledge surely she would give up and pass away. So her parents continued the story of just how well that the Double Yellow-heads were doing and that in seven short days the eggs would hatch.

Then a miracle happened. The cause of the illness was found, but still a great problem existed. The serum to treat the cause would take seven days to make, and Milly didn’t seem to have the strength or the will to live that long.

Milly kept telling her mother that she would die when the yellow-headed babies were born. Her last wish was to go home and see Dede and Jason for the last time. This was all that was keeping the child alive. “Bring me my birds, here to the hospital, or I’ll close my eyes and never open them again,” she told her father.

The next morning Milly’s dad brought Dede and Jason’s cage with the see-through plastic nest box. Dede was sitting in plain view upon her eggs like a regal queen upon her throne. And Jason perched inside the cage with his brilliant yellow head glistening.

Gently the father placed the cage on the table across the room in plain view of Milly saying, “Baby, you have to hold on until the eggs hatch in six more days. I can’t bring the cage any closer because of the oxygen tent, but we will prop you up to see them across the room.” A faint smile creased Milly’s lips, the first in days. She was at peace.

Jason never seemed to move. But Milly’s mother told her that Jason seemed to feed Dede only when Milly was asleep. At all other times he sat very still to avoid disturbing the hatching of the eggs.

Wanting to believe, as do all children, Milly rallied, fought, and held on until the serum was available and the shots given. Daily her healthy improved until the day came that the oxygen tent was removed. Then Milly asked for Dede and Jason to come show her their babies.

At last the truth had to be shared! The beautiful Double Yellow-heads were painted on a board inside the cage by a drunken street person whose touch with a paint brush was a divine gift from God.

As precious as Dede and Jason were to this little girl, the painting, which saved her from her brush with death, was far more precious than mere feather and flesh.

The same bird cage, complete with the painting of Dede and Jason, graces the wall of the largest bird exhibit at the Pere de France in Paris. And Milly tells this story daily to the visiting children of the city who visit the Pere de France where she is the guide.

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