Wednesday, November 17, 2010
A very sad day
My son, who is now nine years old, received $20 from his great-grandmother on his fifth birthday. He told me he wanted to buy a racecar track with the money. I took him to Toys R Us and watched as he compared all the race tracks and agonized over the decision. He finally picked one out and we headed to the check out but as we waited in line he wanted to know if he would get any cash back from his purchase. I told him he would not and he promptly changed his mind about the race track. About a week later, he informed me that he wanted a pet turtle and so, this time as a family, we went out shopping with the birthday money once again. At the pet store, he beamed as he was handed the little plastic bag with the quarter sized turtle inside and he did not balk at all at spending his whole $20, once the plastic home and food were added in. He took one look at his adorable, little turtle and declared that his name would be Greenleaf. We had discussed many, many names but Greenleaf hadn’t been one of them. Nevertheless, Greenleaf was his name (all the middle names were added to appease other members of the family). We brought him home and settled him into a ten gallon fish tank, saving the little plastic home for a temporary holding place during tank cleanings, in our backyard sun porch. We all enjoyed watching him swim and showing him off to our friends. The kids drew pictures of him and for him, taping artwork to his tank so he could see it from inside. He loved to swim, balance bubbles on his nose, and rest on his “island” of little rocks. He ordinarily ate turtle food from a can but preferred fresh fish which we found out after my son caught a couple minnows in a creek and shared them with his pet. We were shocked to find out that our normally calm, quiet Greenleaf had a bit of a wild streak in him. He tore the fishes’ heads off and gobbled them up in pieces. That might have been his coolest accomplishment in life. Unless you count the time he won the race between the Tortoise and the Hare. We set up a race track and pitted him against my son’s stuffed bunny and, of course, Greenleaf, who though he was a turtle was remarkably fast, scrambled quickly to the finish line leaving the poor bunny still stuck at the starting line looking baffled. Greenleaf weathered four winters, the first few I worried about him freezing to death and so brought him inside but we later found out that though he was much less active in the cold months he was a hearty little turtle and could take the cooler temperatures just fine. He, of course, liked the sunny Florida summers best when we could soak up the heat from his island or paddle happily in circles around his tank.
I know it sounds silly but he really will be missed and my son was not the only one to shed a few tears as we buried him in the backyard this afternoon. We don’t believe there is a turtle heaven for him to swim happily in for eternity but we are thankful and comforted that he had a happy turtle life and he was loved.