Tag Archives: memories

A Good Nine Lives

Wendell, my Fuzzy Little Soul Sister, reached the end of all nine of her lives this week.

She was 16,  but I’m still sad.

However, this isn’t a sad post—I promise. When it comes to death, I think a little bit differently than most people. I can usually frame it in a “circle of life” type of way. It’s inevitable, and instead of fight it or fear it, I tend to accept it.

But I’m still sad.

Anyway, Wendell the One-Toothed Wonder Cat’s situation just called to mind memories of pets gone by and some interesting circumstances surrounding their departure.

Keep in mind the fact that my mom is Dr. Doolittle and it’s normal for us to spend two hours coaxing a chipmunk out of a drainage pipe in 90 degree heat (he made it out safe, if not a bit dazed and confused), chasing a loose goat through briar patches (I made it out safe, if not a bit dazed and confused) or picking up stray dogs on the way to job interviews (I got nothing for this one—so much for symmetry).

We’ve had tons of animals throughout the years, but these are just a few examples.

I will keep the stories short and sweet, unlike that disclaimer.

  • First there was Mitten, aka “Bun,” my rabbit when I was in preschool. The creativity for his name was inspired by the fact that he was a bunny with a white mittened foot. “Bun” met an untimely death at the hands of a homicidal cage cleaner—aka “dad”— that “accidently” used harmful chemicals to clean. I was at a friend’s house and by the time I got home, the body was already stiff. Determined to bury him in our backyard pet cemetery, holes were cut in a shoebox so his legs could stick out. I think we get points for creativity there.
  • In kindergarten, I received the best dog in the world and named him Cromwell (obviously more sophisticated than Mitten.) I don’t have a picture of him because I have no scanner, but he was a peak-a-poo and the cutest, most loving thing ever. There was an incident and he had a little crooked nose, but he was awesome. He lived to be about 3,000 in dog years, and when he passed away we had him cremated. He came back in something the size of a business card. I’ve seen more ashes on a sidewalk outside Starbucks.
  • Gonzo, a beautiful cockatiel, joined the family a couple of years later and lived to be about 3,000 in bird years. As I’ve mentioned, the little feathered bastard choose to pass away while I was on my first business trip ever (New York) a few years ago. My mom had to keep him in the freezer until I could come home and we could have a proper burial. It was very traumatic for all three of us (especially Gonzo.)
  • Speaking of the freezer, I also had to freeze a dead fish for some people I was housesitting for. That was awkward.

There are many more stories I could share—a cat getting it’s head caught in the rails of our dining room chair and me having to butter it to get it out (not unlike my mom buttering my own head when I was little and got my head caught in the rails of the stairway) or an accidental archeological find while planting flowers in the pet garden, for example—but I’ll leave you with just one more.

  • I would often dog sit for some people down the street. (Don’t worry—there is no freezer involved in this story.) They have a big dog and a little mutt that is about 3,000 years old in dog years—Burrie. When I was first introduced to the dogs, I was told that Burrie squatted when he peed instead of lifting his leg. That’s not that weird in and of itself, but the reason he squats is because he doesn’t have a penis. Apparently he was hit by a car when he was little and it was ripped off, never to be seen again. He was taken to the shelter and was going to be put down, but this family paid for his surgery and adopted him. I was told by the husband that if his penis ever gets ripped off, he just wants to be put down.

At any rate, Wendell will be missed.

She was buried in the garden cemetery among the many animal companions we’ve loved and lost throughout the years.  We’re all sad, but I can’t wait for the flowers in that garden to bloom—especially the catnip.

Plus, it helps to remember that things could always be worse…

(But I’m still sad.)

Assuming their heads aren’t falling off, do you have a pet story to share? Mishaps? Cool tricks? Great name?

The Graduate

I hoped no one was looking up my dress.

The requisite white gown I had worn over it was unzipped just moments before, moments filled with waves of heat and confusion as my vision blurred and ears went deaf.

The next thing I knew, I was lying in a pool of sweat on the ground with a headache and no idea why. All I knew was that there was a crowd of (still blurry) faces looking on. My first thought?

I was sure they all looked up my dress.

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This was 12 years ago and I no longer even resemble this person, unfortunately, but you needed to see the dress.

Graduation was overhyped—we all knew it.

It was simply a ceremony you had to go through at the end of four years of awkward moments and hours of academic effort. The last few weeks (and by weeks, I mean months) were simply gravy, going through the motions of showing up to ceramics  and an English honor’s class taught by a teacher resembling a haggard Meryl Streep who included sexual innuendo into every lecture and project assigned.

Since I was proficient in skipping, we’ll keep the streak alive and skip past those years for now.

I was actually out of school the final two weeks of my senior year due to an unfortunate incident involving my wisdom teeth, emergency surgery and a head that morphed to much more Ernie than Bert. It was not fun or attractive—much like the aforementioned randy English teacher.

That unfortunate incident was closely followed by a bout with pharyngitis. I know—it was a delightful month or so to be me. I tell you these details not for sympathy—although donations are always accepted—but because they all led up to me feeling rather under the weather come graduation day.

But I was a trooper—or forced to go, the details are fuzzy—and after a pre-graduation dinner with my family and Danny (of the Goldfish Cracker Caper, and no, I did not steal his food this time around) we set off for the ceremony.

Now picture hundreds of graduates shoved into a stuffy hallway outside of the auditorium for what seemed like days, the smell of body spray and lotion vainly trying to mask the smell of smoke.

I started to feel funny—lightheaded and very, very warm.

The noise around me dulled to a muted din, but I could read the lips of my best friend as she asked me if I was alright (or maybe she asked me if I had a light or that I was quite a sight—again, the details are fuzzy.)

The next thing I knew, I was lying in a pool of sweat on the ground with a headache and no idea why. All I knew was that there was a crowd of (still blurry) faces looking on. People rushed to my side and started asking me questions and fanning me with caps and papers.

I was sure they all looked up my dress.

After being reassured that the pervs were at bay, I was taken to the training room and seen by the on-call paramedic while my classmates received their diplomas.

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I, on the other hand, received my diploma from the paramedic.

The next day I was fine in that I didn’t have any teeth extracted from my head, the equivalent of strep throat with a migraine or the experience of passing out before a graduation ceremony.

In fact, I felt much better. While resting on the couch in my cap and gown—I had to wear it sometime right?—I decided that 12 years from then I would blog about that experience in an effort to break out of blogger’s block. OK, maybe I made that last part up, but I really did get my diploma from the paramedic.

And I’m pretty sure he never looked up my dress.

What we remember

“Isn’t the past what people remember—who did what, how and why? And what people remember, isn’t that mostly what they’ve already chosen to believe?” –Amy Tan, “The Opposite of Fate”

It happens every once in awhile, usually in those moments when I’m least prepared.

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I’ll be walking through a crowded store or driving in my car, and for a split second my eyes will catch a glimpse or my nose will snatch a scent and I’m instantly taken right back. It’s never the big moments that I return to, the ones we’re told are important, but rather the seemingly insignificant ones that should be easy to forget.

The random memory is triggered and my mind starts to rewind. Sometimes it leaves me happy and content with what I know, a smile on my lips as I recall a certain time. Other jolts of  memory take on a darker hue, a time I tell myself most likely wasn’t quite that bad despite the surfacing emotion threatening to call my bluff.

With the scent fading fast, I try to remember.

Then I think to myself that I should write, that I should write about that seemingly insignificant thing that has stuck in my mind for one reason or another. But along with what I thought I saw that started this whole dance, that thought soon disappears.

What stays?

Only now.

The feeling I’ve lived a million different lives, a choose-your-own-adventure that replays the same scenes different ways each time they’re cued back up. Did that happen to me or the girl in the picture? Are the memories mine or what I was told, what I choose to believe?

I suppose it doesn’t matter if it’s exact or slightly fictionalized. It’s still—and always will be—my own story to tell.

Maybe I will.