, ,

I was nervous when I arrived home at The Mom’s. I wasn’t sure if Head Canary Dad would still be with us.

Spending time with the canaries is something I look forward to whenever I’m home. I go into their room with a laptop, put on some music (they love Yo Yo Ma and other similar mellow-ish classical, and are newly fans of Sigur Ros), and see what happens. Normally what happens is that they all start singing as I tap away on my computer.

Last summer, I managed to get Dad to sing which was seen as a complete triumph because he hadn’t had much to say in some time. But this year, it was not to be.

Though, in exciting news, Dad was still with us! The Mom greeted me with the exciting news, and I have to say I was relieved and delighted.

“I’ve been putting him in the spa,” The Mom said. “Perks him right up.”

The spa, to which she refers, is actually our bathroom. Well, the kids’ bathroom. What happens is she shuffles Dad (in his bird house) into the bathroom, and sets him down on the counter. Then, she puts the plug in the tub drain and turns the shower on to scald. Waits about ten or fifteen minutes until it’s hot and steamy – like a sauna actually. And then leaves him to his own devices.

Dad has frequently been found on the floor of his house, looking tired and forlorn. But with the addition of the spa he’s been quite chipper, even going back to his daily habit of taking a bath in the morning.

Originally, The Mom had also put a few friends in there to keep Dad company, but what with my things in there too, the whole thing got a bit crowded, and the other birds were removed to their usual home.

So, whenever anyone went into the bathroom, one would have a bit of a visit with Dad. I believe I was perhaps the most excited by this. Possibly because, with Crohn’s, I spend a lot of time in there and it was nice to have someone to talk to. I’m not sure Dad felt the same, but he took it in his stride.

I had arrived home with the traditional death cold/flu that comes free with every Christmas flight, and so was achy and stuffed up – the perfect symptoms for a series of hot baths.

Beyond being delighted by the readily available supply of hot water (in my flat I have to put the heating on and then an hour later I can have a bath, by which time I’ve usually lost all interest), it was lovely to have a friend in the bath.

I think Dad rather enjoyed it as well. I brought some magazines and books in there with me, and began to read to Dad, as is my habit with the canaries. I think they like it. At least, they don’t appear to dislike it.

In fact, having Dad as a guest in the bathroom, I believe I frequented that room more than usual, which is really saying something. Also, I enjoyed the hot steamy nature of the room too.

And I was cheered immensely by Dad’s burgeoning recovery. And wished that when I become old and unwell (any day now I should think) someone would put me in the bathroom for a good steam.

When it became clear that Dad was coming around, I suggested that perhaps he might like some plate (which is how I describe the afternoon snack The Mom sometimes offers the birds – it’s arugula on a plastic lid, but you know…). Turns out Dad adored it! I’d come in an hour or so after the treat had been delivered and there he’d be, green beak and strewn about the place were the remains of the salad.

“He likes it!” I shouted down to The Mom, who came running.

Together, we crowded into the small room and gazed lovingly upon Dad who, tired from having eaten so much, looked like he needed a nap.

Throughout my visit, I organised myself to allow Dad as much privacy and rest as possible – mostly at night. I took my toothbrush out of that bathroom and took it downstairs, where my pre-bed routine was now to be performed. I didn’t use that toilet in there after he’d gone to bed either. Though, sometimes I’d open the door a bit so I could see him curled up for the night – a bright yellow fluff ball.

I miss having the birds around when I’m in the UK. I love hearing their songs and watching them, trying to learn their different personalities. I’m going to be utterly crushed when Dad finally leaves us, but I’m hoping he’ll last much longer. Especially since I’d like to take him outside again this summer, for some sunshine and fresh air. I think he’ll love it.