The last ants in the ant farm passed away a few weeks ago. It was a sad moment. We had enjoyed watching tunnel through the blue gel. Meka quietly washed out their mortal remains in the kitchen sink and placed the clean ant farm on Daniel’s desk up in his room. I was a bit concerned. Daniel was in Michigan visiting his grandparents. How would he take the news?
Daniel’s first pet was a big fancy goldfish named Goldy. They had a special boy / fish relationship from the very beginning. Daniel picked Goldy out on his own. In fact Daniel had it ready to go before Meka and I knew we were going to be buying a fish.
He stood, smiling, holding the bag tightly in his first and promised, “This is one fish I’m not going to eat!”
Unlike most fish, Goldy actually had some personality. It was the only fish in Daniel’s nine gallon aquarium. We didn’t have room for any more. Goldy swam slowly around and investigated everything. Apparently it could see us through the acrylic, the same way we watched it. Everytime we came near, it would swim a little faster and go up and down, begging to be fed.
Unfortunately, Goldy contracted an infection and could no longer swim right side up. One day we found it lying on its side on an artifical rock, fins waving feebly. Meka struggled mightily to keep Goldy alive. She cleaned the tank religiously, bought special medicines. I came home and she had her arm in the water, Goldy cupped in her hand as she guided it around the tank, trying to feed it individual flakes of food. It was no use. Goldy would swim for a moment and then collapse like Camille. After a few days of dramatic suffering, Goldy shuffled off this mortal coil.
Daniel would not stand for a typical “burial at sea” for Goldy. We had to have a coffin and a funeral. We found a small box. Meka folded a tissue around Goldy’s remains. Daniel put some fish food around the box and I was given the job of digging the grave. It was mid January and the ground outside was like cement. The only possible place I could think of where the ground might still be soft was underneath Daniel’s sandbox. While he had poured most of the sand out of the box over the years, it was still quite heavy. It didn’t help that there was a driving sleet chilling me to the bone. I managed to chip out enough dirt before joining Goldy among the choir invisible.
When Daniel got home, he hardly noticed the ant farm was empty. I think his concern for pets is directly related to their size. The ants were tiny; Daniel didn’t even name them all. Since we lost Goldy, we’ve owned a number of other fish. Some of them have died and Daniel seems to have missed the larger fish more than the small ones. We have two dwarf hamsters now – Zachary and Hamstersaurus Rex. We noticed the other day they are getting a bit creaky looking in their middle age. While they are small for hamsters, they both outmass Goldy.