Dad's mother and father lived at the bottom of our street, his mother's parents lived on the same street until they retired and my great grandmother lived down the back lane. It was a small country town and we all grew up wandering between houses.
When Dad was little, his mother would pin a label to him advising which ever house he turned up in, where he was supposed to be.
My earliest memories was wandering down the road to my grandfathers house to visit him and help him feed the birds. He had three aviaries. One had a flight passage that he could drive his car under. We are talking about serious bird keeping here :)
Before he retired to the coast, he began to build an aviary in our yard so that we could take over his many parrots. He was taking the finches and Cocky with him.
Each afternoon for some months in 1977, I would come home from my new high school to see what progress he had made. We were very close and I would sit with him on the grass as he tied wire, cemented the bottoms of the long sheets of wire into the ground, installed the concrete bath and so on.
Finally the cage was built, the parrots installed and he and Nanny moved to the coast. There he built another aviary for the finches and installed Cocky in his own cage.
Every holiday he and I would spend hours sitting in his aviary feeding the finches, following their lives and I have no idea what else we talked about but we spent hours together. It was only a matter of time before he offered me a couple of his canaries, and built me a small cage to keep them inside.
Mum got quiet tired of the mess so for my 17 birthday dad built me a cage...
well blah blah blah...
what I am saying is that from as long as I can remember, keeping pets, particularly birds, was intricately entwined with my sense of family and home.
(At this point the tally was something like one dog, two cats a tank of fish, 18 parrots + budgies+60 finches and a dozen canaries)
My grandfather passed away in 1986 and my grandmother gave his birds away.
On and off through my adult life I dabbled with birds but when my children were born and we moved a few times, it was too hard to keep them.
Last September we were at the coast and I happened to drop into a pet shop, saw canaries and a longing to tie myself back into those memories tugged at me hard!
I didn't resist!
I never imagined how much the kids would enjoy them.
For me it is the memory of my grandfather that is so strong. It's in the smells, the sounds... its very comforting. I wish I could share it with him.