Sunday, October 9, 2016

The Pope John Fish Memorial Rose

I got the call at about 8:30 on a September evening.

“Can you call Dana? She’s really upset. The power went out. The dog is going to defrost.”

I’m known for my big backyard, but less known for the fact that it’s actually a graveyard. Several rabbits, four fish, and two cats have ended their journeys there, fertilizing the roses. We named one after a fish. A rose that is. When Pope John Fish died, he (she?) went under there, joining the cats, for whom it never occurred to us to name a plant, for some reason.

Katiedog was a sweet, ancient, and in fact apparently immortal dachshund who lived well past her use-by date, and was beloved by all. She started life with Grandmother, and moved in with Moira when Grandmother couldn’t take care of her anymore. When Moira lived near us, I often met her and Katie for walks. Later, my daughter moved in with them. So Katie was sort of my stepdog.

When Moira got married, her wife adopted the dog wholeheartedly. (Everyone adopted this dog. This was the world’s sweetest dog.) And when the dog finally died at the age of,  I don’t know, 30? she was old, Dana couldn’t bear the idea of taking her to the vet in a box for cremation.

So they wrapped her up and put her in the freezer until they could find a solution.

Eventually, Moira got the bright idea to call me. I researched it. It’s actually illegal to bury pets in the backyard, but the internet helpfully explains that if you bury a small animal like a cat or a weinerdog at least 3 feet down no one will ever know. (Full disclosure and responsible caveat: you are supposed to call “Julie” anytime you dig more than about a foot down, to make sure you’re not hitting any gas lines.) However, as I knew I would be moving in autumn, I suggested we wait and bury her at the new place, where they could come and visit.

And then the power went out.

So one warm early fall day Dana brought Katie over just as the sun was going down and a light rain started to fall.  I removed the rose entirely, and we dug down in the dark, thigh deep (no cat bones!) laying Katiedog to rest. We said a little prayer and replanted above her. Moira came by and we sat on my porch and lifted a beer to her sweet life.

The Pope John Fish Memorial Rose now lives beneath my new kitchen window, a transplanted memorial to the lives of several sweet companions.