Try Saying Yes When Saying Yes Is Crazy

Try Saying Yes When Saying Yes Is Crazy

Intuition will take you on the finest of adventures – even if you go along kicking and screaming. I think of this (the intuition part, not the flailing) as “following sparks of interest,” and there are lots of examples of this principle in action. Something is out there beckoning, you accept the invitation, and your life is suddenly and forever changed for the richer.

This is peachy in theory. But the timing on these cosmic events borders on ridiculous. They don’t seem to waltz in during a lull when there’s the luxury of time to spare. (To be fair, when is there ever time to spare?) No, it’s more on the order of, “Here I am; good luck making it work.” The universe loves a laugh.

And thusly, Rudy O’Quigley came into our lives.

* * *

Early in August, we had unexpectedly lost a friend. Petrie, the Quaker parrot whom I had raised from his infancy fourteen years ago, was suddenly and without warning no longer with us. My children and I had brought Petrie home before he was even fully feathered; he looked more like a sort of spikey-looking turtle than a bird. He had to be hand fed three times a day, each time until his little crop (birdie tummy) inflated like a miniature water balloon to the size of a jawbreaker. Luckily, I worked only eight minutes from home; each lunch break for weeks consisted of jumping in the car, preparing formula, dripping it into Petrie’s open beak, and rushing back to my desk. I had thought about this magical experience many times over the years, and I knew that it would be a long time – if ever – that I would be able again to dedicate the time and energy it takes to hand feed an infant parrot. And now he was gone.

Anyone who has ever loved a pet knows that losing one leaves a gaping hole in your heart. I was distraught. My husband, whose fondness for Petrie I had not fully appreciated, was devastated. Solemnly, we laid Petrie to rest, knowing that there was no replacement for this tiny vibrant character.


By the by, it crossed my mind to read about parrots online — different kinds of parrots, their characteristics and personalities. It crossed my mind that Sugarcreek Bird Farm, where we had picked out Petrie so long ago, might have babies.  Which they did, when it crossed my mind to check  – many different kinds, including three blue Quakers. It crossed my mind that it would be truly therapeutic to see them.

Sparks – they will take you where you need to go, but follow them at your own risk…

As I sat holding one of the babies that weekend, my husband bent down and whispered, “Should we get him today?”

WHAT??? That had not crossed my mind. Work was demanding. We had a trip planned. In the midst of all that, we would need to dedicate every available minute to establishing a bond with this baby bird, because there is only a small window of time for doing that. Besides that, my desk is no longer eight minutes from home. The idea was patently absurd.

“Yes,” I answered.

Only later did I remember that this is exactly how Petrie had found his way home with us.

Rudy - feeding

First Impressions

While we waited for our avian baby to mature enough to come home, we visited twice a week to feed him and allow him to become familiar with us. In between times, we studied thousands of names. Parrots are characters, I insisted. Quigley, I thought, expressed that quite well. My husband responded with cold silence. Oliver, I thought, could capture it. My husband cleared his throat in dismissal. Of the scores of names I put forth, we finally agreed on Rudy (no political statement embedded). Rudy O. Quigley, I secretly added, inwardly smiling. Rudy O’Quigley, I quickly amended for the flow of it.

Raising Rudy - the lab

Ralph’s Feeding Lab

In late August, Rudy was ready to come home with us, and the frenzy began. It was my part to mix and feed, Ralph’s part to wash and disinfect. A retired professor of molecular biology who had directed a research lab for decades, his was a no-nonsense attitude.

Certainly, this onslaught of responsibility made me less reliable in ways that I am usually very reliable – but what new mom hasn’t experienced that? The response of my less bird-loving lunch buddies carried a slight chill. A six week hiatus on lunches? For a bird???

But there’s something sweetly surreal about the experience of gently encircling a tiny creature with one hand while nourishing him, his head tilted up and his eyes closed, with warm formula from a syringe with the other.

I’m so glad Ralph said, “Should we?” and I insanely answered, “Yes.” Because we have this bright new star lighting our sky!  There’s nothing generic about a parrot. They are amazing little individuals, highly intelligent, and thinking all the time. Rudy O’Quigley’s magnificent little personality is now woven into our lives. Beyond that, I think we’re even closer, my husband and I, for having become a team for The Raising of Rudy. And Rudy provides an insistent set of parroty demands and scores of charming moments that pull our attention away from some of the hard stuff of life and from the problems that dominate the news. Together we are creating a rich environment for Rudy to grow in – and in doing so, our own lives are richer.

I don’t know the science behind it, but somehow, hearts stretch infinitely to love, and schedules warp to accommodate that. When it’s the right thing, the energy it requires is more than replenished by the joy that it delivers.  Today – or next week or next month — when something beckons to you, maybe trusting this will help you proclaim yes! to the adventure that lies ahead.