I loved you all your life. I will miss you the rest of what I have. – Unknown
Not the least thing to bear when they go away from us, these quiet friends, is that they carry with them many years of our lives. – John Galsworthy, English novelist and playwright (1867-1933)
As I sat down and logged into my laptop, Wilhelmina jumped into the arm of the chair and climbed onto my lap. She did some roles and then settled down. Wilhelmina was never a bosom although she did occasionally squeeze between me and the arm of the chair. I’m not sure if her unusual affinity is for me or for me. The past few days have been a little difficult for both of us.
In the past, the prairie house used to host a zoo. There were two cats, Jack and Jane. We had a family that visited with their dogs, Frank and Falkner. There were six Peking ducks swimming in the lake. Sam built a floating dock for the safety of the ducks. It was not uncommon to find a duck egg in a duck pier, behind a tree, or outside in broad daylight.
A neighbor once found little rabbits in her barn. I suspected the rabbits were the offspring of abandoned Easter bunnies. We took two of them, Hatcher and Rex. Later, we were given two more rabbits, Toby and Romeo. The pond within the perennial garden holds up to eight fancy goldfish. Their fins were fluttering like angel wings.
The hard part of owning such animals is taking care of and meeting the needs of all these precious animals. The hardest part is losing them. Jack and Jane died of old age. However, it leaves the heart a bit broken. These kittens will be followed by rescue cats that have been barely weaned. Siblings Harry and Wilhelmina stole my heart as did all animals, each with their own favorite personalities and ways.
The Peking ducks started disappearing one by one. The prairie has a lot of predators. Although we tried to protect them through the dock, it wouldn’t be enough. I missed the daily walk to the lake to feed the ducks. It was always right before sunset. Hilda and Helen will be the last to go.
One day Toby escaped from his pen and ran into the woods. A few years later, Wissam and I looked out the window as a group of rabbits were running in the yard. I got out when one of the rabbits got separated from the group and ran towards me. If I hadn’t shouted Toby, Toby, over and over, Sam said, he would have stayed longer. He went to join his family. Sweet Rex will be next to go. Then Harry, my frightened cat, disappears without a trace or explanation.
After they had a golden fish pond for fifteen years, they were attacked by raccoons. Two survived. In order not to be outdone, I immediately bought more goldfish and remade the raccoon traps.
Hatcher, my last bunny, we left last week. It was a peaceful march. The best you could wish for. I think we – Wilhelmina and I – get through our losses together.
Shannon Bardwell is a writer who lives quietly in the meadow. She is emailed to [email protected]
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