Monday, May 27, 2013
The Gift That Wasn’t—den Boer
The phone rang. It was Marnie. “Marian, I’m embarrassed to tell you this; I bought you a present.”
“For me? You did?”
“For your family.”
“What’s the occasion?”
“Oh, just because you’re nice and Marty and Allison had a birthday.”
“So why are you embarrassed?”
“Well, because the present is so nice.”
“Yes, because I’m keeping it. I bought it for you on Friday, fell in love with it over the weekend, and I can’t bear to part with it.”
“Thanks, I guess.” Marnie and I, good friends since high school, over 20 years ago, don’t often buy each other presents, so I was sort of grateful for the thought. “What in the world is it?”
“It’s a bird.”
“You bought us a bird. Oh, Marnie thank you.” Now I really was grateful. How many friends do you have who would buy you a bird and keep it for you?
You see, our four children had been bothering Marty and me for a pet and again this year we had promised to look into it. The truth is I don’t like pets. I don’t mind admiring someone else’s pets, but I don’t like to take care of a pet. If a pet came to me toilet-trained (that’s flush toilet), I might reconsider.
It isn’t that we haven’t tried to meet our children’s desire for animal friends. We took them to the zoo once and we’ve lived next to people with rabbits and dogs. We’ve even owned goldfish, but they died. Our gerbils died too. So did the puppy we had for three days: the one that slept under the car.
“I knew you were looking for a pet and as soon as I saw her I thought of you,” continued Marnie. “She’s got a big cage and she talks.”
“It’s a parrot.”
“A parrot? You bought us a parrot? Expensive, I bet.”
“Yeah, but that’s okay. You’re worth it.”
That evening I told Marty and the kids, “Aunt Marnie bought us a pet.”
“She did? What is it?” the kids chorused.
“It’s a bird, a parrot, but we’re not getting it because she fell in love with it.”
“Aww.” The disappointment was showing.
“But,” I added, “we can go look at it and maybe think about getting one like it.” Notice how I didn’t commit myself.
Several evenings later we were introduced to Zack. (She was named before they figured out her sex.) She was a pretty green bird with a yellow patch on her head, orange eyes and several red and blue tail feathers.
“Hello,” she said. “Tickle, tickle. Want a peanut? Thank you. Bye.” She whistled, she barked and she meowed. The kids loved her.
“There’s probably not another bird like her,” Marnie said. “Nobody is allowed to say bad words in front of her: she learns words so fast.”
I actually liked the bird. I liked her all the more because Marnie wasn’t about to part with her, although she did promise we could baby-sit Zack sometime, maybe even for a few weeks when she moulted, because all those feathers would make Marnie’s family sneeze.
Our children came home raving about Zack. Angela took to reading the want ads every evening. She only came across one parrot, but by the time we phoned it was gone.
Maybe I could talk the kids into settling for a bird-feeding station in the backyard.
“Which of you, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone?” (Matthew 7:9)
My sentiment toward pets mirrored my attitude toward the Holy Spirit. It was okay for my sister-in-law to speak in tongues, but I was not interested in receiving that “gift” as she called it. Prophetic words, miracles, signs and wonders were all evidences of the Holy Spirit which I enjoyed reading about in the Bible, but I was not expecting to experience those things personally. Little did I know that in the not too distant future, even as Zack would come to live at our house, the Holy Spirit would captivate me.
Excerpt from Blooming, This Pilgrim's Progress by Marian den Boer. I'm currently working on a novel, Minnie Goes to Heaven. Visit my blog to catch the work in progress.
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