I am a little late with this one but life sometimes has a way of getting you sidetracked.
Pet – what a theme.
My first pet was a budgie. I lived with my Auntie Rita and she thought that something small would be the way to go. As with all animals the budgie died. That is probably the saddest part about sharing your life and your home with animals…their short lifespan in comparison to ours.
Yet for all the tears and physical pain I have felt at their passing, the joy of their willingness to love me and be part of my life has always surpassed those dreadful days.
I was quite young when my budgie died. I came home from school one day to find him lying cold and stiff on the bottom of his cage. At nine I figured that if only I could warm him up everything would be all right. So in to the oven he went. I was back living with my mother by then and she came home to a kitchen smelling of burnt feathers and a tear sodden child who was convinced she had murdered her bird by fire.
Cremation. The family oven is NOT the best place for that. It was a wonder I did not burn down the house as the budgie caught fire.
Life at Mum’s place was filled with animals. Birds, dogs, ferrets.
My favourite brother Ian has a special way with animals. It has fascinated me since I was a child to watch the way they respond to him. He would spend hours in his room under the bed covers with a bird until it never left his shoulder.
He had a ferret (my brothers ALL had ferrets), but Ian’s spent hours tucked against his belly under his shirt. We had a para poll in one of our houses, and one of the ways Ian would exercise the ferret was to let him have a swim.
He asked me one day to give the ferret his swim in the pool. Silly silly boy. I put the ferret in the pool and as young children are wont to do I got distracted. When I remembered the ferret the poor animal was clinging exhausted with his claw hooked in to the plastic trying desperately NOT to drown.
I really hope Ian is NOT reading this post…I never told him about my almost killing his pet.
We had births, and deaths, and I learned many things from these companions.
I learned it is also possible to dislike an animal.
For some unremembered reason we had a Shetland pony at one stage. It was the most evil tempered beast ever born and terrified me.
I learned that they are faithful.
Skipper taught me that. Skipper was a blue cattle dog that was another brother’s pet. When my brother was away from home for a time Skipper did something that I still find remarkable. Another brother…who was also a rather evil tempered beast drove Skipper hundreds of kilometres from our home in Sydney and dumped him.
Skipper found his way home. Bloody and tired he lay down on our front porch, still willing to lick the hand of the monster who had put him through all of that.
I learned that death is painful for those left behind. But that there is always a part of your heart that can love even when it feels broken and shattered. You just have to let it.
I share my heart and my home with four animals these days.
But those that have passed through my life are still there. Their photos remind me of their faces…my memories remind me of their souls…and my heart reminds me of their love.
Some have stayed with me for years…others just weeks.
ALL have left a mark that I will carry with me for ALL of my days.
And I am grateful for that gift.
These are a few of those amazing souls…the souls that have taught me about selflessness, compassion, and the gift of unconditional love.