Stories and insight in the world of showbiz and beyond.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

LET'S HEAR IT FOR THE LITTLE GUY

Early Wednesday morning, a member of our family passed away.

He was a little guy who lived in our house for over 11 years. An acclaimed child prodigy, he named himself, “Baby Peter” at just three months old. Then, started reciting, “I’m Baby Peter, Pumpkin Eater.” At only 2 years of age, he had a vocabulary of over 200 words. He could even recite Shakespeare (“To be or not to be. That is the question”). At age 3, he was entertaining guests with somersaults and taking treat requests (“Do you want a cookie?” “Would you like some water?”). He had a set of feathers on him that knocked you out every time he flew into the room.

Feathers? Flew? I guess by now you know I’m not talking about the little guy interviewing big guy Rock Hudson in the above picture. This little guy was a Parakeet. But, to us, he was a little person in a feather suit.

My love for parakeets began in 1952 while doing a show called “Leave It To Lloyd” on WSPD-TV in Toledo, Ohio. The show featured Lola Smith at the organ, Barbara Krall, who sang, myself, and starred the talking Parakeet, Sanford. Sanford was named after the pet store “Sanfords,” that donated him to the show (this was typical local 50s TV folks). We also had big guy guests like Rock Hudson, but it was Sanford who always stole the show and gathered the ratings. When the show went off the air (as all shows eventually do), Sanford moved into my parent's house for the rest of a very good life.

The scene changes to Hollywood.

My wife, Barbara, and I first saw Baby Peter at The Farmer’s Market Pet Store just days after he was born. When we entered the store he was being hand fed by Todd, the loving owner himself, and we had to wait a couple of weeks before he was old enough to bring home. From that moment on, he literally personified the phrase, “What a handful.”

Then one day, just a little over four weeks out of his nest, he looked up at Barbara and myself and said, ever so softly, “Baby bird.” We rushed to the phone to call Todd at Farmer’s Market to report this unbelievable feat (“He’s talking. He’s talking”), but were told that this was impossible; the bird was too young to talk. All the time I was trying to convince Todd it was true, Baby Peter was on my shoulder shouting into the phone, “BABY BIRD … BABY BIRD.”

And that was just the beginning. For the next 11 years he sang “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Clause is Coming to Town,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You,” and hundreds of other songs and expressions. He called out for “Cheese Please,” at the dinner hour, and said “I want to go to sleepy” when it was time for bedtime. Once covered, he then recited, “Good night, sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite.” We called him The Prince of Parakeeters.

We loved him so much and truly expected him to stay around forever. But, 11 is a lot of years for a Parakeet and a couple of weeks ago he began to fail. He stopped talking and spent a lot of time just sitting flat on our shoulders, snuggled up tight against our cheeks.

On Tuesday, Baby Peter started to lose the ability to stand on his own feet and Barbara and I took turns holding him in our hands for most of the day and night. At two thirty Early Wednesday morning, he lifted his head, let out a sigh, and died quietly in Barbara’s hand. We buried our little Prince under the Japanese Maple tree.

Anyone who has ever lost a beloved family member can surely understand our grief. The house feels eerily lonesome and quiet. We miss Baby Peter even more than we could have imagined. We were so thankful we were able to be with him when he left us. He was never alone.

Good night sweet Prince of Parakeeters; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

Stay tuned.

11 Comments:

Blogger Gary said...

My condolences, Mr. & Mrs. T.
I have always wanted a talking bird but never could find the right one at the right price. We have had lots of cats and dogs, though, and it was always painful to see them pass on.
Rest easy, Baby Peter, and keep singing in the heavens. SING LOUD so Barbara and Lloyd can hear you and if they listen real hard, they will.

Gary

4:35 PM

 
Blogger Mike Barer said...

Sorry to hear that Lloyd. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your wife.

2:09 PM

 
Blogger bhone2000 said...

You sure have a way with words Lloyd. What a beautiful little story and a beautiful little bird. RIP Baby Peter....
Marty

8:43 PM

 
Anonymous Arthur said...

Dear Lloyd,

I'm very sorry for the loss of such a loved one from your family. Many people would not think a parakeet could be so special but I had one (Barney) and she was.

9:02 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must tell you I was terribly moved by your Baby Peter story, and I am so sorry for your loss.

Only pet lovers can really understand. I lost my nearly 17-year-old cat Ripley two years ago, and in some ways I am still in mourning. I've often told people that my relationship with Ripley (a girl, not a boy, despite the name -- it's a long and moderately amusing story I'll tell you over lunch) was the longest, closest relationship I ever had. I miss her terribly, and although Marilee is a dog person and we now have two dachshunds, it's just not the same thing.

Anyway, again my condolences. Your touching tribute, together with the photos, has undoubtedly moved many of your readers. I'm just one.

Best,
Jon

10:52 AM

 
Blogger ModGirl said...

I just read this and my heart goes out to you and Barbara. I lost my sweet little kitty last Oct. (lately wondering if she was an early victim of the pet food poisonings) and I had for a wonderful fifteen years. I raised her from a tiny kitten, and she was my kid, especially since I do not have any human children. She even visited me one night in my sleep a couple of weeks after she left the planet -- it was no dream -- she jumped up on the bed and began licking the back of my hand just like always. She was purring and I could clearly see her silhoutte there in the dim glow of the streetlamp through the window. It gave me such peace...I still miss her to this day but I know it was her way of letting me know she was fine. And I know Baby Peter is too. Thank you for sharing your story, and thank you for allowing me to share mine.

7:26 PM

 
Anonymous OH*LIZY said...

Im so sorry for your loss the pain is tremendous i know. Im sure you gave Baby Peter a wonderful life.

5:30 PM

 
Anonymous graciengeorge said...

Hi there, that is a truly amazing story. Thank-you very much!!!
Your sweeties spirit lives on within the budgie world!!!!!!!!!!

8:56 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a lucky little parakeet to have you two to love him like you did.
Thank you for sharing your story of a very special Baby Peter! I am sorry for your loss.

9:24 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, did I love this. My first beloved parakeet was named Peter. My most recent late parakeet was named Elvis, and one of the most exciting moments of my life was when Elvis said to me (I hadn't been teaching him to talk) "Elvis is a baby." So I share your excitement, joy, and loss. I loved the way you said Baby Peter was a person in a little feathered suit. I feel that when I die and go down that long tunnel to the Light, the five parakeets that I've had in my life -- and who have gone before me -- will fly down the tunnel towards me to carry me home.

4:00 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Lend Me A Bird"

"I will lend to you for a while, a bird", God said. For you to love him while he lives and to mourn for him when he is dead.

Maybe for twelve or fourteen years, or maybe for two or three. But will you, till I call him back, take care of him for me?

He'll bring his charms to gladden you and should his stay be brief, you'll always have his memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise that he will stay, since all from earth return, but there are lessons taught below I want this bird to learn.

I've looked the whole world over in search of teachers true. And from the folks that crowd life's land, I have chosen you.

Now will you give him all your love; nor think the labor vain; nor hate me when I come to take my lovely bird again?

I fancied that I heard them say, "Dear Lord thy will be done, for all the joys this bird will bring, the risk of grief we'll run."

Will you shelter him with tenderness? Will you love him while you may? And for the happiness you'll know forever grateful stay?

But should I call him back much sooner than you've planned; Please brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.

If, by your love, you've managed, my wishes to achieve, in memory of him you've loved; be thankful; do not grieve.

Cherish every moment of your feathered charge. He filled your home with songs of joy, the time he was alive. Let not his passing take from you those memories, let them thrive.

"I will lend to you, a Bird", God said, and teach you all you have to do. And when I call him back to heaven, you will know he loved you too.

(Author Unknown)

12:01 PM

 

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