This is the part of the blog where I share too much. I give too much away. But this is who am and this is what I do. Buckle up.
I love animals. All animals. Not in a PETA-no-meat-save-the-leafy-seadragon way but still. There is much love. My last hermit crab that the kids HAD to have but forgot about died last night and I can neither confirm nor deny shedding a tear. Hey - I cared for those little guys for almost three years. The one named Don'tDie ... ahem... did last week. And then the one with his shell painted like a creepy eyeball had his heart fail him. Maybe due to loneliness. Maybe because he had no water. I guess we'll never know. But I digress. Back to my love of animals. I had 174 dogs and 1,215 cats growing up. A few ferrets. Dozens of birds. Turtles. Fish. Lexi had a hamster - cat #807 ate him in the dryer. I loved them all. Even when we sent the kittens down the stairs on cookie sheets covered in bowls - it was out of love.
Anyway, one of my favorite things about my house is that it's surrounded by six acres of woods. I have deer, possums, raccoons, foxes, cardinals, bluejays and more. I give all my leftovers to them. I know I shouldn't - don't lecture me. It's freezing out there! I hate to think of them cold AND hungry. I have a white owl that hoots (hoos, really) outside my window at night. I love her/him. I love them all. And I have forced my kids to love them all as well. Our favorite is Charlie the rockchuck/marmot. He is huge and fat and adorable. I bet he weighs 35 lb. Not squirrel-sized - more like huge beaver-sized. Since the day we moved in, he has been hanging out in the front yard every day. We keep binoculars by the front windows so we can watch him use those little black hands hold things and see his huge belly spill over his feet not unlike a daddy penguin. (Penguins are soo soft. I have pet one. I love them, too.)
Every day, when we'd come home we'd pause to let him undulate back to his hideout before driving up to the garage. "Hi, Charlie!" Preslie and Mason would yell. (I know, I changed tenses - forgive). Then one fateful day (I hate fateful days), I was driving to the Y and I'm not sure how I knew because there wasn't a thump or sound, but I stopped and looked in the rearview and there was Charlie. Laying on the driveway. THe kids started screaming, "CHARLIE! CHARLIE!" as I ran out to him. He wasn't squished but he had a bloody nose. Did he run into the back wheel of the car? I have no idea. He was still breathing and I was a mess. I called jaymee crying my head off. I can't even think about it now. So sad. So, I pet him until he stopped breathing (he was SO SOFT!) and then went to the Y and sobbed to Krista that I couldn't stay because I hit Charlie. I went back home and called Mami because I was broken. Her kids loved him, too.
In the garage I found a shovel and as I walked out, there was Krista with her kids (that she pulled back out of kidcare RIGHT after signing them in), a shovel of her own and a bouquet of flowers. A minute later, Mami and her girls were here, too. I told Sienna to write something and that we'd have a funeral. I'm pretty sure Mami and Krista aren't big animal people but they pretended to be for my sake and I'll love them forever for it. I really was a mess. So we picked him up (so soft!) and carried him to our grave under the treehouse. Sienna read her poem:
Charlie the Magnificent Rockchuck
Charlie the Magnificent Rockchuck
When people see him they fall into a daze
And now his life is done,
But when I look back I am I amazed,
At the times he came into our yard.
And, I swear, I saw him smile.
I can't believe he's gone for good,
But I'll have to get through this trial.
He'd run back into his little hole,
Although we'd want him to stay.
But we all knew that
we would see him the next day.
We will remember him forever.
From our hearts he will not go.
And when I look into our yard
He's still there, I know.
When she finished, HUNDREDS of birds flew in and landed in the trees right above us. Mami suggested that each kid say something they liked about Charlie. Even with my deep love for him, I thought that was silly since we only ever watched him. The kids surprised me with their thoughtful answers. They said things like, "He was always there when we got home from school - kind of like he was waiting to see if we were ok." or "I like how he'd sit up and use his little hands to eat." and "He was so happy." He was happy. I don't know how we knew that, but he was. Mason said we could ask Heavenly Father to ask Grandpa Ron if he could take care of him. Camryn said a prayer. In it she said,"please bless that we won't always be as sad as we are right now" and "please take care of him in heaven until we can see him again". So sweet. When we all said amen, the birds got up all at once, flew around the tree in a circle and flew away. Seriously. It was an amazing sight. Like a military "fly-by".
I'm really sad still, but it gave me a lot of thoughts for my mind to nosh. First and foremost being the quality of my friends. They didn't mock me. They just dropped everything to "mourn with those who mourn". It touched me deeply. I also have pondered why Charlie made such an impact on us when we really didn't interact with him all that much. I've decided that my life is filled with Charlies. A Charlie is someone who makes a difference just by existing and being happy. I'm lucky to live in a semi-small town. I see many of the same people every day. Some are Charlies. There is a crossing guard down on State and Smiley who waves and smiles at EVERY car that drives by. Every time. My kids make me roll down the windows so he can see them wave back. Have I ever spoken to him? Nope. Would it impact me greatly if he passed away? Absolutely. Another one I thought of is Claude at the Y. (My kids call him Clog). He's a cute man that volunteers in the kidcare every Wednesday holding babies. It melts my heart. I don't have any babies for him to hold or know the babies he is holding, but I love him for it and I hope he lives forever.
I want to be a Charlie. It is one of my goals to really be part of my community even if it just means smiling at everyone I see. I can wave at the cars that don't hit me when I go running. I can take treats to the girls at sonic at Christmas. I want to help and be happy for the rest of my days so that just maybe I'll get my own "Charlie" bird fly-by.