I should preface this story by saying that my mother is a strong Valkyrie of a woman, even at 89. She’s also damned sharp and not frail and she most definitely doesn’t cry often, so when she called me Thursday morning at work sobbing, I definitely sat up and took notice.

“What’s wrong, what’s wrong?”

“My little bird is very sick,” she sobbed. “I called his vet, but she’s not in and they referred me to an emergency bird place in Palos Verdes.” That’s a long, unfamiliar way for someone who doesn’t drive freeways and doesn’t have Google Maps or internet access or a Garman.

She adores her baby bird, she does. He’s been a great companion for her for the last seven years or so, and she’s quite protective of him. Because of that she’s sometimes been convinced he was dying when he wasn’t, so I asked her to describe his symptoms. It didn’t sound good. He wouldn’t eat, wouldn’t talk, wouldn’t do anything, just sat on his perch (a little shelf in the back of his cage) with his eyes shut and his feathers ruffled. When birds don’t feel well, they sit for long periods with feathers ruffled.

“Maybe I can find a bird clinic that’s closer and easier to get to,” I told her.

So I got online and found a place in Santa Monica. She called them and they told her she’d have to come in for an evaluation to decide if it was a true emergency worthy of calling in the bird expert. She didn’t like that and had worked herself up into a real state by the time she called me back. I was more concerned about that then the bird, I’m afraid, but concerned for him,too. I told my boss what was going on (well, that my mom had a crisis situation going) and he told me to go take care of my family. So I called her and told her I was on my way and maybe she could call the Santa Monica folks back to tell them we’d be therre.

It took me about twenty minutes to drive from work to Mom and during that time I couldn’t help remembering a disturbing dream I’d had on the weekend in which her bird had died. So I wasn’t happy with the Universe sending me precognitive dreams when we’d made a deal after my dad’s death that It wouldn’t do that anymore. It was a long damned twenty minutes, I’ll tell you. I pulled into the driveway and rushed towards the house.

Mom met me at the door. “He laid an egg!”

Picture my jaw hitting the front steps. Picture me grabbing the porch rail. Hear in your mind’s ear the sputtering noise I made. “He what?”

“He laid an egg!” She was beaming. “And he’s just fine now! He’s talking and his feathers aren’t ruffled and he’s eat and jumping around and he’s his old self again.”

“Now quite his old self,” I told her, “because he is quite clearly not a he.”

We called the bird clinic and told them we would not be coming in. I made it back to work, having only been gone and hour, and took it as an “early lunch.” Everyone there was quite relieved that the mysterious crisis had been averted.

In our defense, I should say that even the vet said, “I think he’s male, but it’s difficult to tell with starlings.”