An early morning phone call told me Tapo had breathed her last. I changed into the day's clothes, got all my pills took, Caterpillar held for a bit and fed, brushed teeth, picked up an apple from the refrigerator and headed out the door. I was in no hurry, one step at a time, Tapo is already dead, hurrying won't bring her back. On hwy 18 I threw the apple out the window over the top of the car into the meadow before Jr's tractor shop. The crows there ate apple slices I threw to them every day for several months. A lot of times I'll take an apple when I go out in the car and throw the core to the crows. I don't know that they find them, but believe they do.
In a time when I was driving by there almost daily at about the same time, I saw a crow in the meadow waiting for the flying apple core. Every core I throw is a greeting, a hi from their friend who fed them on Jr's lawn. It was a family, a hen, a rooster and 4 youngsters maybe a year old. They hadn't yet begun to learn to vocalize crow language. They were limited to squawks. The young ones I couldn't tell apart but for one that wasn't quite right. It was slow to learn to feed itself. It went around to the others with its wings half open fluttering and beak open asking to be fed. Mama kept on feeding him, though the others told him they learned how to pick up something to eat for themselves, he could too. I say he. I don't know, a flip of a coin guess. That understood, I saw Mama get him down, stand on one of his wings that was splayed out on the ground, and give him a good squawking to. She let him have it. She was trying once again to get him to stop begging for food and pick up some for himself.
That was when I started feeding apple slices to them, emphasis on the one slow to develop, throwing them near him until his fear of me as a human was weakening. I've made video of him walking by the edge of Jr's porch, me sitting on the porch, a cement slab, and the crow standing on an apple slice, holding it with the grip of a foot and pecking at it until it was pecked down to the peel. It came to where I could sit on the porch and they'd march around on the grass from apple slice to apple slice. Jr thought it was insane of me to spend money on apples to feed the crows. In his way of seeing, crows were good for target practice, like cats. It was worth the price of an apple a day to have a family of country crows act out their lives in front of me, marching to within 5 or so feet of where I sat. I never attempted to attract them any closer. They didn't need to drop their guard where humans were concerned because one befriended them. I didn't worry over Jr's way of seeing crows. It was his way. Mine was mine. We got along easily like that.
It was not easy picking up my baby. I thanked the women who worked in there for all their help over 2 weeks. One of them put Tapo in the carrying cage in a black plastic trash bag. I wanted to cut her out of the bag and carry her home free of a body bag, but felt it sentimental drama to be so particular about a corpse. It was ok, though. She was out of sight. I didn't want to dwell on seeing her. Stopped at Selma's coffee shop for some coffee and sympathy, the friend of my heart for 13.5 years dead in the car. I was in no hurry to bury her, didn't want to. Stayed there half hour to an hour over some Kenyan coffee. Fortunately, other people came in making it impossible for me to dwell too much inside my head. Didn't want to, anyway.
First thing at home,I put the carrier on a chair, went outside and dug a hole where I wanted it to be. Back inside, I cut her out of the plastic bag. She wasn't stiff yet, though wasn't limp either. I held her as I hold her. It seemed like holding her as usual. My heart was weeping from sorrow. Leaning down I held her in front of Caterpillar for her to see and smell that Tapo was no longer living. I went to the closet, brought out a white tshirt, wrapped her in it, carried her out to the grave and set her gently down in it as into a crib. Caterpillar watched and walked around the edge on one side. I hated throwing dirt on my baby. I hated every step of the process from picking up the shovel to digging a hole and placing her in it. I didn't want to do any of it, and would not have allowed anyone else to do it. I made no ceremony of it, no prayers, enough had been spoken already, no standing over the grave. Put 2 rocks on top of the mound to keep dogs from digging her up.
Staying at home the rest of the day was out of the picture. Tried to take a nap and used the opportunity lying down to bawl. When I'd had enough of that, got up, looked for some pictures from 20 years ago, found a good one of Jr from 7 years ago that had been in a show at the library of portraits of people I know. I took it to the Blue Ridge Gallery to see whoever was there, Melia, Judy, Edith or Joe or all of them or any throw of the dice of them. Judy was there. I handed it to her, thinking I'd give it to whichever one I came face to face with first. She said today is Melia's birthday and assumed I'd brought it for Melia. When Melia came in, Judy handed it to her with a happy birthday. So it's Melia's. That's good. She loved Jr like crazy. They all did. A miserable day turned into a beautiful day.