Tuesday, March 14, 2006

So long, old pal

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When Johnny was 2 John thought we should get him a fish as a Christmas gift. It would teach him a little responsibility and he would enjoy watching it swim around. Johnny was impressed for all of 30 minutes. I, however, enjoyed him for 5 long years.

In case you don't realize this, 5 years is a rediculously long life for a Silver Hatchet. There are Silver Hatchets in the aquarium at The Toledo Zoo. The information we read said that they live 3 years.

We thought 'ol George's number was up several times. First of all, he's a jumper. I can't tell you how many times I had to scoop him up off the carpet or the kitchen counter because he hopped out when I went to feed him. About a year ago a strange lump appeared in his belly almost overnight (you can see it in the photo... it got even larger). Naturally I am not a fish scientist, but I have to assume this was some type of fishy cancer, or at least a tumor. Or an immaculate conception.

After many false alarms over the last year it became very obvious that his time was up when he couldn't even swim out of the current of his water filter. It was too sad watching him barely swim, only to be pushed back down to the bottom of the tank... so I pulled the plug. He flittered around in the quiet water for the rest of the evening, and was resting on the rocks in the morning. All done. No more George.

I thought I was ok with it. I'm cool. Just a fish. We all tromped up to the bathroom, gathered around the toilet and I asked everyone to say something nice about George. Johnny said, "It was fun watching you eat." Eden said, "George was a good fish." I said, "I enjoyed having you in my kitchen everday, watching you swim around." and John said, "You were a good little fish." I smiled...

and then John plopped him in the toilet. I was surprised by my reaction, but I let out a quick gasping cry. It just snuck out. I put my hand over my mouth at the site of my little George laying in the toilet and had to walk away. Johnny was shrieking with boyish delight, "Flush him! Flush him, baby!" He was the one to do the job. He was thrilled.

And I cried a little. I actually walked down the stairs and cried. Over a fish. A $2 fish.

So I talked to John about it later, and he really helped me figure out my emotions (God bless him). My responsibility in caring for George was consistent... it was part of my day, everyday. Get up, let out the dog, grab a glass of water, feed the fish. Everyday, same thing, same dog, same water, same fish. And when I did the dishes and cooked dinner and did all those other solitary tasks, this cute little fish was on my counter, watching me and swishing his water when I startled him. And he was so soothing to watch. A lot of times I would put down my dish towel and grab my coffee and just watch him swirl around, watch his little mouth open and close. And now that part of my day, that part of my routine is gone. No matter how silly the avenue, when you lose a part of your ingrained routine... you lose a little part of the life you know, a little part of yourself. It means you have to start over, even in a small, small way. A familier part of my landscape has diappeared.

Done laughing yet? The kids and I intend to buy all new fish next weekend. George actually came with a tank mate (Stuart, who died after a year) and had another friend (Tigger, who attacked him mercilessly so that we actually breathed a sigh of relief when he went belly-up)... but we didn't want to continually stress him by adding new tank mates every year. He lived alone. I'd like to have a whole tank full of swimming, eating, bubbling fish.

Go on now. Spread the news that I'm a complete lunatic. I don't mind ;)


Natalie said...

Hey, I'm not laughing - I completely understand! I had a goldfish that a neighbor's friend had unceremoniously DUMPED outside when they decided they no longer wanted fish. We scooped him up and put him in some water, and eventually added him to our tank with our other goldfish. I had him for nearly four years and then, just before we moved, Hurrican Isabel knocked out power to our Maryland home for four days. My goldfish couldn't tolerate not having aerated water, and three of the four of them died within the first 24 hours of power loss. One was left - the one my neighbor had dumped, so I went to PetsMart, talked to the fish manager, and she was overjoyed to take him home and add him to her personal aquarium. You see, by then, he was about 8-9" long, and he was gorgeous.

I would have kept him, but we were leaving the following weekend for a 2-day trip from Maryland to Florida, and I feared that he wouldn't have tolerated the lack of aeration for so long. But I was SO sad to give him up. I really hope he's still doing well and that he means as much to her as he did to me.

Thanks for letting me share. My point, though, was that I understand how a little ol' fish could have a big impact on our hearts.

Anonymous said...

Poor George. I am sorry. You have my sympathies. And you are most definitely not a lunatic.

I can't stand for Ty to have any more fish (even though he's DYING to set up his tank and I'll probably let him soon) because fish are so fragile and I couldn't stand that many lives being lost in my home on a regular basis.


Anonymous said...

Poor George. And poor you. I would probably be the same way. It's so much different when you are the one caring for something for a long period of time. No one else may realize it or not take you seriously but that's only because they don't know how it was. I wonder where they got flushing fish down the toilet. I remember that's what we did.

Shawna Taylor said...

Awww poor George, I am so sorry Val. Although I had to LOL at the thought of Johnny standing over the toilet saying flush him baby!

My daughter has asked about getting a fish, as she loves the fish in her grandparents pond, but I know I'd be the one taking care of it, and I'm already doing that with the cat & dog.

Angie said...

Fish are interesting creatures, and only htose that have had them can truly see that, In my opinion. The only funny part about this post is your timing. You see, 12 years ago, I had fish, a very large tank, we moved many miles from my home, my tank got smaller and my fish didnt take the move well. After kids, we tried again, with a smaller tnk, but something about those little foreign objects in the tank all the time didnt settle well with me or my fish. SO whats funny about the timing?? Well, dh and I were just discussing the possibility of firing up my big tank again soon, the kids are older we will have room for the tank, and well....why not??? I always enjoyed wathching them and coming home to find them all in the corner of the tank waiting for my arrival. Just fish they say???? Nah!! Enjoy your new friend shopping. Cant wait to see what ya get!

Leslie said...

Val, I made a review for the kit. I know this kit needs a lot of exposure. Just thought you might want to approve it.

Heather said...

I feel so bad for you! I had a fish once, Bubba. I won him at a school fair by plopping a ping pong ball in his bowl. We all thought he was just a pale goldfish but... he was actually a carp....and lived to grow to be 10+ inches, much too big for my tank so 5 years later, I had to give him away to a wonderful family... Since he was an outside fish or so they said, they built a beautiful pond and put him in it. He lived for two years in glee in it and then just "disappeared". I don't think he grew legs but I don't want to think about what happened to him... I loved him so... he used to suck on your fingers, lol!!!