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 😉