#254524 - 01/04/14 07:10 AM
Re: Blast from the past!
Joined: Nov 2010
Joined: Nov 2010
University Park PA, Manhattan
This is my own personal experience with Brenda over a 15 year close friendship and it's a very short and very abbreviated honor to her and her works with parrots - and some people. I could fill volumes about her and many people hold her in their hearts as a modern day saint.
I post as a tribute to a woman having helped MANY parrots and having taught many face to face and online about parrots and promoting her agenda since the 50's which is the same as the agenda here, to illustrate just how much one person's efforts in avian welfare can affect many people for many years.
Brenda was very, very humble and never took any credit for all she did for our birds. She donated serious money to PDD research and to many university vet schools to study avian diseases to include PBFD. In the late 80's and 90's a vaccine was available for a few years for Polyomavirus and Pacheco's which never really took off but was researched by grants and contributions to various veterinarians and vet schools. Brenda alone didn't fund all this of course but she donated generously to all of these veterinarians, vet schools, universities along with many other people and groups. Brenda told few of this as she was very humble and just wanted to help and never wanted any 'status' over it. She worked quietly with humility and never drew attention to herself as she never sought any praise for her many acts of kindness. A genuine and true good human being. The kindest and most gentle person I've ever had the pleasure to meet and know. Brenda valued all life in all species. She couldn't even swat a fly. She is the most life giving person I have ever known.
Brenda was like a second mother to me in my 20's and early 30's and all who knew her for real loved her. She was the most intelligent person I've ever met in my life and didn't even have a high school diploma. She was born and raised in the south of Russia on a working dairy farm being communist controlled and witnessed her parents shot in the head at point blank range at the age of 14. She and her siblings were spared the slaughter and offered a home in either the USA or France. Fortunately for the USA Brenda being the eldest chose the USA for she and her siblings. She lived in Manhattan and I'm a fifth generation Manhattanite so we had some things in common for a close friendship.
We actually met online in the early 90's in one of those parrot chats something I think like, 'awake for coffee at six' or something. She gave them the what for, on and off, until they threw her off and then after a while me too for the same. She told people about working with the natural instinct of parrots not against and when someone wanted to buy a parrot she would say to adopt one as your new baby is going to be just as messed up in a few years anyway so might as well get one needing a home! as they are all the same once they grow up and will bite and scream and want to be what they are meant to be, birds, not your pet!
She caused much ruckus for sure with the owners of the chat! She taught natural bird keeping and free time out of cage daily to fly, letting cockatiel hens with chronic egglaying find a mate and mate and lay eggs but then hard boiling them and replacing them which really does work in many hens and even though the eggs get soft in a couple weeks the process of mating, having a mate feed them while sitting on eggs, taking turns sitting on the eggs and all the rest and staying on eggs for a couple weeks does satisfy many chronic egg laying hens so that they only lay once or twice a year.
I remember the final blow that got her banned, again, but this time forever when someone posted asking if they should buy a sun conure or a goffins cockatoo and Brenda said neither but you're going to get one or the other anyway so get the conure as it's cheaper and since either parrot will be sold off or dumped by you in a year anyway might as well get the cheaper one to save on money!!! This was her last truth statement. I stayed on as did other truth tellers until we all got banned.
But.... she made so many friends via email exchange on that chat that we all kept up for years as all the real parrot people either quit or got banned for truth telling.
One fluff board owner actually feared her as she 'stole' half his members! as they simply told the board owner they wanted no part of promoting animal abuse and quit! She often wanted to start her own message board but was too tired too often due to her advanced age and heatlh issues. Her very username posted in any post as in 'blson' posted on such and such a board that... made fluff board owners tremble.... She was a force of nature. Truth usually is and is often subdued. She 'converted' so many fluff people with consistent truth and sometimes a 'Brenda moment' and always stood strong. She did well on open forums in educating for sure but her real talent was in private email exchanges as Brenda worked wonders with pet mentality people one on one as she had a way about her.
Brenda started here at Mytoos and ForTheBirds close to her leaving Manhattan for the senior care home in PA and she had bad arthritis in her hands and fingers, very bad, from the years of sewing in sweat shops in the garment district when she first came here. She used both the sewing machine and needle and thread by hand. If not for her arthritis in her hands and fingers so bad she would have done much more typing here and on other boards.
I loved her voice and even though we both lived on the same island we always just talked on the phone. Brenda was wonderful. I never met her face to face for a couple years and never asked as she implied she was a private type and it was unsafe to meet people online in person. She lived in a neighborhood on the island being mostly Russians and Eastern Europeans and very strong ethnic neighborhoods don't really like many outsiders visiting so I never asked.
She taught me so much about parrots and cockatiels. Our first call was actually when I emailed her HELP, I had a 'broken and bleeding feather' on my first cockatiel which I did purchase. She called me and told me to get either flour or cornstarch or both, tweezers, pliers or something to pull and other things and walked me through this over the phone step by step. She saved my tiel's life. It was a bad break of a blood feather and she walked me through it all, so calm, so great. When it was all over though .. she let me have it wide open and I deserved it for not being prepared and over the next couple of weeks I was shopping in several pharmacies, grocery stores and pet shops getting a first aid kit together per her instructions and bought the book she recommended.
She really hammered me once. She asked me what I saw when I looked at Jazzy my fist tiel. I told her I see a cockatiel. She said no, wrong. I said I see a pied hen and she said no, I said what do you mean? She said you look but don't see her for what she is. Brenda said you see her as you want to see her, a pet, in a cage all for your wants, your needs and you are selfish! See her as a wild bird in a cage in your living room. See her the same as you see a raptor or hawk or owl in the zoo. See her for what she is, a caged animal for your selfishness! It's selfish to buy a bird and cage it to be your personal pet! She wasn't put on earth to be a pet. Brenda was the real thing long before there was ever any internet. She started telling this to people in the late 50's when all the NYC dept. stores had a pet shop floor and sold all kinds of parrots, small primates, lion and tiger cubs. Brenda knew wild animals belonged in the wild and told anyone who would listen to her why.
She told me I was selfish for wanting to buy a citron crested cockatoo and that even though I knew about natural bird keeping and was better prepared to raise it than most it would not last with me as I was 21. She explained that it's one thing to help those parrots and people already together but she would dissuade me from buying a Too even though she knew I wanted one and had the brains to raise it better than the average person and told me I was selfish and what I was trying to find in a cockatoo could never be found in any pet of any kind of animal. Then I told her I already put a deposit on the Too.....
She wanted to meet as I was going to buy a citron crested cockatoo! and she wanted to talk to me in person about it. We met and she was as beautiful and lovely in person as on the phone but called herself a worn, ugly, old woman. She was the most beautiful person I've ever met and her smile was like the sun being warm, radiant and welcoming. I immediately knew I was in the presence of a very special and exceptional woman and I felt dirty and unworthy as when you meet someone as quality as Brenda you know it.
Brenda talked me out of buying that citron crested cockatoo and just forgetting about the 500 deposit on a 2,000 citron chick until weaned as in NY state deposits on any pet or animal are not refundable. She was right. She said I could work with you and I know others that can work with you to raise the Too as best as can be but you don't have the space and city people like us need not have anything bigger and louder than a Tiel. I simply listened to sense and reason and Brenda championed me. She also started to slowly become like a second mother to me.
She told me I had too much money and not enough sense and to use my head for something other than a hat rack and what ARE you learning in THAT college you go to? But she said all these things in a way that was a perfect blend of love, truth, compassion and bluntness.
I think of Brenda every day and sometimes find myself when I get stuck about avian things thinking what would Brenda say or do and it comes to me the right thing. She also told me that if I didn't stand for something I'd fall for anything.
Brenda not only helped and saved parrots, promoted natural bird keeping, avian welfare but along the way helped and saved some people too.
Brenda was a naturalized citizen and she had such a genuine and real appreciation of the USA and was more of a 'real American' than many born citizens I know.
Brenda explained to me her oppression in Russia and the restrictions on speech, worship, employment, economics, education and individual expression and all the rest and told me that without a strong military we would be living like she did under a communist rule. She told me in Russia the only right anyone has is the right to be shot. She explained to me that the freedom we all enjoy is not free ... and that someone pays for it now and in the past and I 'got it' as she had this loving, kind but very truthful way of telling me things that made sense to me and everything she ever told me 'clicked'. Brenda was blunt and sometimes insulting but she immediately followed it up with a calm, rational, explanation of why she said what she said in a respectful way, tone and manner. She also wasn't afraid to tell people she loved them. She didn't tell people she loved them in a frivolous way as in constantly saying 'oh I just luv you' rather a sincere way and it wasn't everytime we talked or met but she did enough times over the years with me and also all she knew. She explained to many born citizens, generational born citizens that complained of the USA that our freedom is not free and if they didn't like it here they should go elsewhere! but she said this in love to them.
Brenda was a shining example of what an ideal immigrant having became a citizen should be and also a shining example of what an American should be and she was from Russia!
Brenda compared Russia's exploitation of people as commodities to our USA exploitation of parrots as 'pets' which ARE commodiaties.
Brenda championed little parrots and spent as much to vet a rescue Tiel as a rescue Too and I do the same. Brenda taught me to see all birds as living beings deserving of proper care without any regard to the bird's economic value. A zebra finch has the same value and worth as a hyacinth macaw and the day the finch has less worth is the day you have died a spiritual death. Brenda was also a philosopher and taught me well of how to see people also not just animals. Brenda wasn't afraid to call a big bird bird snob just that! and made a few enemies both face to face and online for her truth statements. She wasn't afraid to call anyone out for bad or negligent treatment of any bird from a zebra finch to a hyacinth macaw.
Brenda lives on in many. I know more than a few people continuing to carry the torch face to face and doing hands on reasue work or financial support or online work due to Brenda having either mentored them or inspired them. When she called everyone to say in a couple days she was leaving the island for a care home for Hebrew women in PA I asked her how I could pay her back for all she had done for me over the years and she told me to keep the torch lit and keep passing it to others and if you do this it's payment it full.
Brenda knew many years ago that the only way to get this all done is to set a solid example and be steadfast and never compromise. Her greatest concern over avian issues was a lack of younger people having no interest in rescue and the very materialistic culture of today's youth and the consumerism mindset of today's youth and her fear was that it would feed the demand for parrots. She loved youth and young adults for real but was always concerned they were not getting what they needed for real success in life.
Brenda was a very strong believer in God, Torah and although not a Christian she was often and commonly mistaken for being a Christian woman both face to face and online. She always thought this was a huge compliment and took it as such. She would say 'birds of a feather flock together' and when someone face to face knowing her for a short time just assumed she was a Christian would insert foot in mouth she would tell them she was so proud of being thought of as a Christian and would glow of the compliment. She promoted and actually lived a Judeo-Christian life and she loved every single person she ever knew. Brenda wasn't afraid to talk to anyone she met more than a litte while about anything. She could pick up fears and insecurities in all she met after knowing them only a short time. She was also a comforter to many going through difficult times. Her counsel and advice was sought out by many on both avian issues and personal issues.
But Brenda wasn't afraid to zoom in on WHY? do you want a citron crested cockatoo? as Brenda taught me sometimes people want parrots for all the wrong reasons such as filling an emotional need and not any parrot can do this so Brenda's big thing with a few people she worked with about birds was asking them why they want a bird and if for an emotional need she'd tell them what she thought they really needed to get that need met.
She was one power packed, dynamic, wise, caring, smart woman for sure and she wasn't afraid to go rounds with anyone over the realities of parrots as pets.
Brenda simply was the best person I have ever met in my life and I've met so many people from all over the USA and abroad and from all walks of life and just all kinds of people. While I have met many good salt of the earth people for sure that are in the same league as Brenda she was in a league of her own. When Brenda died it wasn't just the death of one woman it was also the death of an era in her ethnic community in Manhattan as she was their last living matriarch and taught them and kept them all in line.
Brenda did plenty of parrot rescue and saved and helped many parrots but sometimes along the way she rescued and helped and saved some people too.
I miss you Brenda. I love you Brenda. You are alive in so many.
The Heavens Created Birds, then man created cages, shame on man.