When we lived in the mountains some years ago some members of the family wanted to acquire some tropical fish. We, of course, gave in and purchased an aquarium with all of the requisite accessories; air pump, rocks, castle, and so on. We also purchased two goldfish; one of which was rather ornate and the other quite plain by some standards. We followed the pet shop preparation directions and added the two fish to their new home and watched as they explored and became acclimated to their new environment.
That night was no more unusual than any but, when I awakened the next morning, I walked downstairs to discover the frilly goldfish floating on the top of the aquarium while the other seemed to be more than just a little despondent. I removed the dead fish and continued to observe the survivor while preparing breakfast. When the family assembled for the morning meal bringing all their ruckus and commotion the remaining goldfish seemed to improve and followed all of our activities from his vantage point inside the aquarium.
I had decided to christen the survivor Shark Bait, but after a few days my wife pointed out that the little fellow did not appreciate the demeaning moniker and suggested we change it to Sharkie, which we did. Our mighty goldfish seemed to approve and as the days and weeks went by it was more and more apparent that Sharkie was a member of our mountain family. So much so that we discovered that when the house was empty the poor thing became depressed and lethargic barely floating in his tank. In fact, when we came home from one outing or another and quietly opened the front door we could easily observe this behavior but once he heard us approaching his perch on the pass through between the kitchen and dining room Sharkie would excitedly splash the surface of the water and wait for me to raise the lid and position my index finger over the water where he would surface and kiss it, sometimes several times.
Sharkie’s happiest times seemed to be when we were in the kitchen preparing meals, in the dining room eating, or in the living room where we would either listen to music or watch television. Sharkie had a vantage point to all three because what we called the dining room and living room where just two sections of the same great room.
Sharkie was with us a three short three years, which I understood to be a rather full life for his particular kind but, in those few short years, our little piscean friend taught us many lessons. One of these was that all creatures great and small seem to have their own unique personality. Another, was that human eyes are not the only ones that mirror the soul.
Yes, it was a sad day that morning I walked downstairs and found our steadfast companion floating on top the aquarium water like his sister had done several years before and yet, some twenty-five years later I still think of our little friend, the lessons he taught us, how much he meant to us, and how much we meant to him.
Friendship. It’s one of the important things in life.