Aging widowers who have no family left and only a scattering of fair-weather friends should watch or re-watch the 1962 movie “The Birdman of Alcatraz.”
For those who may not know, the film is the true story of a convict in solitary confinement who finds a sick sparrow in the exercise yard, carries it to his cell and nurses it back to health.
The con’s first cellmate becomes his soulmate.
Over 42 years in solitary, Robert Stroud collects more birds and builds an aviary of 300 canaries in his cell. He writes a book about canary diseases and achieves recognition in ornithological circles.
The parallel between widowers and the Birdman is that being alone without a wife or soulmate, without family or true friends is like being in solitary confinement, even more so in the age of covid.
Stroud found essential companionship in his birds. I know an old widower who has an aquarium of fish. You may prefer dogs or cats or gerbils.
Nothing or no one can ever fill the void left by the death of a soulmate but pets may save you from going totally stir crazy.
Whichever one of mother earth’s creatures you prefer, that companionship is vital — someone to talk to, even if you can’t converse, someone to feed and care for, worry about, another heart beating in the lonely house, someone to stop you from pulling the trigger, because there’s no way in hell you’re going to abandon your last true friend on earth.
Top picture: Bella Donna Michelini — stoned again!