Friday, April 09, 2010

The fish stories

Tonight just after kissing my kids goodnight, I found that our beta, Aristotle, had died. I was going to feed him. That's usually my daughter's job but she had forgotten. I am pretty sure her food forgetfulness was not the cause of death - she is good at remembering and a beta can live for a few days, at least, between meals.

This is our 2nd beta. I didn't care much one way or another about this fish. But our first beta, Joe, was a wonderful fish. So I am putting up some old blog posts, from another blog site, about the day Joe died. This was in 2006, so my kids were only 9 and 7.


Our pet fish, Joe, died today. We'd had him about a year, after buying him on impulse (sort of) at a craft store. We learned a lot about fish while dealing with various fish illnesses. He went from a tiny cup to an unheated fish bowl to a deluxe tank with heat, filter, and lots of cool plants.

Joe was a very personable fish, as fish go. When one of us would approach the tank, he'd swim over and "flare" at us. That's fightin' behavior for a betta, but we took it as a sign of affection. We'd puff out our cheeks in an attempt to flare back. He was the most interactive fish I've ever come across.

After getting to know Joe we acquired a few more fish, some corydoras, to live in a separate tank. They're cute, but don't have personality like Joe. So when one of those fish died a few weeks ago, it wasn't too traumatic. E made a little grave marker, but it was a busy weekend so we stashed him in the freezer for burial later. Um, he's still there.

We could tell Joe was getting sick, or tired, or just plain old, for a little while. We prepared the kids for his death. We talked about getting some clove oil to anesthetize him so he wouldn't be uncomfortable at the end. But we never got around to it. We were going to go this afternoon....

At bedtime one night J said "goodnight, and maybe goodbye forever, Joe." Oh my. I hate to admit it but it made me laugh. I said "I hope when I'm old you never say that to me!" He wasn't too happy about that.

As is usually the case in our lives, things don't happen in a calm, orderly manner. We were getting ready to go to our homeschool group book club meeting and the kids were saying goodbye to Joe. They were sort of hugging the tank when they realized he was dead. Oh no! E ran out of the room sobbing. J exclaimed that Joe's guts were leaking out and we had to "get him out of the tank quick!" Then he started sobbing. "I don't want to go to the book club! Yes, I want to go to the book club! Oh, I don't know what I want! Joe!! Joe!!"

So I did what any other calm, confident mother would do: I called Daddy. He very graciously offered to come home and take care of the fish while we went out. Since we'd be out he could do some work from home. What a guy! So we said goodbye to Joe one more time and left the house.

On the way to book club we started a new audio book, called Poppy. It's about some mice, and an owl. Within the first few minutes one of the mice is captured and killed by the owl. More wailing, and a quick hit of the eject button on that one. One dead animal a day is our quota.

At the book club we learned that another family had dealt with dead fish today. But they had simply flushed them. E was appalled. "They flushed them? Down the toilet? We are not doing that to Joe! Or to any other fish we ever have!"

Tomorrow we will have the funeral for our two fish. Stay tuned!


Today was the funeral. I had thought the kids would be upset and ready to do it early in the day, but they didn't even mention Joe at all. Yes, the same kids who yesterday asked, wailing, "How are we going to live without Joe?" didn't seem to even remember him this morning.

But in the afternoon when we asked them about the funeral they got all somber. Yesterday they had said they just wanted to keep the fish bodies in some kind of box so that if we move, we can just take them along with us. I informed them that that's not the way it works, and that depending on how many pets they have over their lifetimes, they'd have a mighty big burden eventually. So we decided to do the burial under our favorite maple tree. E had a difficult moment of wondering how we would get the fish into the hole. I think she was worried that we were going to make her touch the dead fish. Eewwww! Daddy explained the procedure and she was satisfied. J said he wanted to plant some forget-me-nots there and was satisfied when we said we'd do it in the spring. (As if he'll remember.)

E found the grave marker she'd made when the cory died and put Joe's name on it. Cheater! I guess the cory didn't deserve a marker anymore. It's just made out of a craft stick and some wooden shapes. Pretty cute, actually. The kids went out and picked the last of the flowers to stick in there too.

C slipped the fish into the hole - E refused to watch - and the kids covered it up and then decorated it. Then C said a prayer. He did a fine job of thanking God for all the creatures and the opportunity to care for some of them, and the joy they had brought us. Everyone was crying by this time.

I was surprised that no one asked if we'd see Joe in heaven. Glad, too.

And I'm really glad we didn't just flush them.


This entry won't make sense unless you have read the previous one about our fish dying.

When we arrived at the book club and were parking, I noticed the truck was acting funny. The steering was hard, or maybe the transmission wasn't quite right. We went in, and while the book discussion was going on, I went back outside to check it out. Drove up and down the street a couple times, and there was just something wrong. Great.

Once again I did what any confident, intelligent woman would do: I called my husband. He said he'd drive over and see what was up, as soon as he finished dealing with the dead fish. It was about a 25-minute drive.

When my cellphone range, the official book club meeting was over, the kids were playing, and the moms were drinking coffee and chatting. I answered while starting to walk outside to get the bad news about the car. I wondered if we'd need to have it towed.

"Honey, you have to take the truck out of 4-wheel drive."

"Huh? I've never had it in 4-wheel drive! I don't know if I know how to put it in or out of 4-wheel drive!"

Apparently I'd hit the button while on the road and never noticed it. I figure it must have been when I was hurrying to eject the story of the murderous owl and the hapless mousie.

My husband is a patient, patient man.


Kerri said...

Our rat has cancer. We don't just want to watch her waste away with this big tumor, but then nobody can quite figure out how to finish her off. :( She's been a sweet little ratty. The kids all think it's discimination how the rats are always bad guys in stories and mice the good guys.

Pets. *Sigh*. It's so sad when they leave us. :(

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