365 Days of Earrings

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Family Field Guide: Uncle Sully's Cockatoo

I printed copies of my Family Field Guide today-- this year's incarnation of my annual holiday card. This is my page of photos; there's a page for each member of my family, with accompanying information.

I wore this pair of exotic birds. I call them cockatoos, although I don't know what they're supposed to be. They were a gift from my brother's ex-wife. She bought them for me in Australia, I think, or perhaps Fiji. In the South Pacific, at any rate, when they were living in Australia.

But when I wear them, I always think of my Uncle Sully, my mother's brother.

In this photo of his medical school class at the University of Virginia, he is in the front row, second from the left. He looks like he has somewhere else to be. Uncle Sully became a psychiatrist. During World War II he left his young family and his practice and volunteered to serve his country. He was sent to the South Pacific where he must have helped many young men who needed psychiatric care. I've always wished I knew more. All that I know is that he returned home with many shells and a cockatoo. 

Perhaps his son, my cousin David, will read this and remind me of the whole story. The bird had learned a rich vocabulary from sailors during the war, and Uncle Sully had trouble finding a home for him. 

I've never seen a cockatoo in the wild. Someday!

No comments: