My cockatiel Goldie died today at 4:00pm.

This story begins on February 7,1987 when my dad rescued this little bird. He had been mistreated when he was young, and the result was that he would be aggressive with other birds (and many people). No one wanted the little guy because of this, and he was to be euthanized. My dad felt sorry for him, and brought Goldie home to live with us.

Goldie soon had control of the house. He was allowed to fly free in our home, and would go wherever he chose. When we had our meals, he would fly into the kitchen and watch from the curtains. When he decided it was time for everyone to wake up he would fly into the bedrooms and cheep away until he got his way. (And in many cases if that didn't work he would fly to the beds to make more noise). 

The downside of this was that he escaped once, but even that was a positive event. Somehow the front door got opened when he was near and he hurried out. I will always remember watching him high up in the sky flying free and unconstrained. For two weeks he was a creature of the wild, and as free as a bird is meant to be. When his vacation ended he returned home, but he had a memory of freedom.

And we would take him on vacation with us as well. Every summer he came to Hornby Island to our summer cabin with us. He got to be in the fresh air (in his cage of course) and look at the ocean and the forest and talk with the wild birds. Each morning at sunrise he would chirp until we woke up. He came with us to two family reunions as well.

After my dad had his stroke in 1998, and was starting on his recovery, he would sit next to Goldie's cage for hours. And Goldie would come down to sit with him. Together they would watch TV and grump at the world.

On March 31, 2007 Goldie decided to try flying again. Cockatiels have a lifespan of about 17 years, and by this point Goldie was well over twenty years old, so he couldn't fly well anymore. But he still tried, and he crashed behind the TV. He promptly walked back to his cage and dusted himself off, giving my dad a great laugh. A few hours later my dad was rushed to hospital and wouldn't return home again. But his last memories of home included a comical little bird who had gained an extra 20 years of life thanks to my dad.

Since that time, Goldie has continued to enjoy his 'retirement'. He could no longer fly around the house, but he was happy to sit in his cage and watch the television (his favourite was the Weather Channel due to its soft music and quiet voices). He was still full of life in spite of his age.

On September 10,2010 at 3:45pm he walked over to one of his favourite spots in his cage and settled in for a nap. By 4:00pm he had passed away.

I may never know how old he was - at least 24 years old. But for those years he was a very good friend to all of us, and he will be very fondly remembered.