You may not know it, but I have a daughter. She just turned 21—drinking age, if she was so inclined—and she is mean as a snake. She hates women. Detests ‘em. If another woman is around, she will just about tear me up from jealousy. But when it’s just the two of us, she falls all over me, practically eatin’ me up. Her first word was “Momma,” and it still melts my heart whenever she says it.
Her name is Ladybird.
For all the Right—and Wrong—Reasons
This beautiful blue and gold macaw has brought me so much pleasure, but I was in a very dark place when she first came into my life.
I had just lost my little Shih Tzu, Magnolia, of cancer and my first marriage had ended. I was brokenhearted and so terribly alone. So I said to myself, “I’m gonna find me something that I don’t have to worry about leaving me”—that’s how bad off I was. And I had heard birds lived a long time, so I got me a bird.
I found a man nearby who raises birds. He had a 3 ½ week-old bird for me. To be honest, from the look of that creature, I didn’t know if maybe I was getting a chicken hawk! She had no feathers—she was all beak. Her little eyes were not even open yet. But she needed me, and at that point in my life I needed to be needed. I brought her home in a shoebox and pumped food into her mouth for six months before she could eat on her own.
Another Mouth to Feed
Then, like any good momma, I worried Ladybird needed a sibling to keep her company while I was busy starting up my first restaurant, The Lady. So I got another bird. This one was a yellow-tipped umbrella cockatoo named Dixie. Oh my goodness, he was so sweet and just loved pretty girls. And don’t think he didn’t know the difference between a pretty one and an ugly one! My niece Corrie and her girlfriends would come over and Dixie would look them up and down and say, “I love you girl. I love you girl.” They would shimmy their breasts at him and he would just go nuts. Needless to say, Ladybird merely tolerated him.
I put those birds in bed with me. Ladybird slept with her head on the pillow next to me and Dixie buried himself in the sheets. That’s how lonely I was. Then, by the grace of God, Michael came along. And he might sleep with one “bird,” but he sure wasn’t sleeping with three!
Dixie passed away suddenly a few years ago after coming in contact with a roach that was carryin’ a bad infection. It was one of those freak accidents. I could never replace Dixie, so now I just have parakeets and finches, and Ladybird doesn’t bat an eye at those little birds. I guess she figures they’re hardly the woman she is.
My Strong-Beaked Baby
And what a woman she is, y’all. Michael is scared to death of Ladybird. One time I said, “C’mon now, hold her! She’s not gonna bite you.” He was shakin’ he was so nervous. So if he ever gets acting up on me, I tell him that I’m gonna let Ladybird loose on him.
I adore her, but she is a pain in the butt. I did not realize the huge commitment having a bird would be. I certainly didn’t realize that I was going to have to provide for her in my will! But she has truly been a loving and loyal life partner. And in spite of all the squawkin’ and fussin’ she does, no mother could turn her back on that.