My Nonna¹ many years ago, having had a number of eye surgeries had poor vision even with thick glasses. Her cherished companion was a small, very talkative, conure² named ‘Bach’ that she’d had about a year.
On the morning of her 70th birthday, Nonna was playing her piano & waiting for my auntie, Mom, & I to arrive as we’d made plans for the day.
Bach kept flying to a sconce by their apartment door & saying “knock knock” like he always did when someone was at the door… Except no one had knocked & the old fashioned buzzer hadn’t rung.
He was very insistent, so Nonna finally opened the door. Much to her surprise a huge black cat marched in with head & tail held high, he trilled at her, explored the rooms briefly & then curled up on her Piano Bench & fell asleep!
My Mum & I had arrived at my aunty’s the evening before, and the three of us landed at Nonna’s a short while after her surprise visitor :D. She grabbed my hand & said she’d already had the most delightful surprise any woman could possibly want on her birthday, a handsome, mysterious, gentleman caller.
As we came around the corner he stretched and rolled over, exposing white markings on his stomach that looked like the ivory keys on her piano. Nonna exclaimed
“Oh and a grand Baby Grand he is too.”
And so a 25+ pound, mostly black cat named ‘Baby Grand’ joined Nonna & Bach. Always a gentleman & mostly dignified… We never did find out how he came to be sitting outside her door, 4 flights up in an old, restored hotel.
Nonna called me the next morning, giggling…
“He spent the night with his paw in mine, but I couldn’t find the rascal when I got up, not until Bach & I stepped into the bath for our morning shower. There he was waiting patiently for us.”
Every morning they would make their way to the shower. Bach perched on the temple of her glasses & Baby to one side or the other. If Nonna hesitated Baby would lean slightly on the side she needed to turn toward. They all shared the shower, which was an unusually large custom walk-in. Bach would perch on the top of the shower head while Nonna washed her hair & then hop back to her glasses when she was done. Baby usually rolled in the water & then sat on the second seat to avoid the soap.
It was always heartwarming to see the three of them together. Nonna played the piano by ear & memory, Bach perched on the Sheet Music stand, saying tic-tock to the beat of the metronome Nonna used, or singing along with the Ragtime, Nonna loved. Baby would stretch out along the edge of the keyboard cover making breathy trills & purring loudly.
Baby happily wore a harness & leash to go for walks, splashed in the fountains at the park, made friends with large dogs, never shredded furniture & exchanged grooming techniques with a conure.
Nonna was well into her 90’s when they took their last nap together…
Bach nestled in her hair, one foot firmly clasping the temple of the glasses she wore even while sleeping & Baby, head resting on her hip, holding hands with her as always.
All of my photographs are long lost in a flood, yet I still see them in that album I have tucked away in my heart.
- “Nonna” is an Italian term for “grandmother”.
- A small to medium-sized parrot.
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