Pet-sitting for the Grandkids

"We’re going to do WHAT?" I asked Peggy, thinking the batteries in my hearing aids were weakening. "Pet-sit a wish?"

"Fish, Frank. Fish. Ef eye ess aich." She spelled it this time, making sure I didn’t misunderstand. "We’ll be taking care of the grandkids’ fish?

"The grandkids’ fish?" I mumbled. "I thought Indigo kicked the bowl?"

Without giving it too much thought, she informed me it was replaced by Sky Guy. Then she added,  "And . . . uh, it’s more than just a fish." 

"Okay! How hard can it be to take care of two fish for a few days?" I asked, not really expecting the conversation to continue.

That’s when she dropped the hammer. "And . . . uh, it’s more than just a few days. It’s even more than a few weeks. It’s for seven weeks. And we must make sure nothing happens to them, understand?"

WOW! She was the one who made all the arrangements, but somehow I sensed she managed to put all the responsibility of their safety for the next seven weeks squarely onto my shoulders. Oh well, how much trouble can it be to feed two fish and change the water every other day.

"Uh . . . it’s not just two," the wife muttered softly as she dropping another bomb while passing my chair on her way to check them out. "It’s four."

"FOUR? Four fish?" I bellowed. "Good grief, I never caught that many the first time I went fishing with my grandpa," I said.

"How is it possible for four girls to have four fish for pets? And why? You can’t teach them tricks. You can’t hold an intelligent conversation with them. You can’t even take them for a walk. The only thing you can do is feed them, watch then swim, change their water and imitate them when they make those silly faces by squeezing the sides of the mouths together. Haven’t they ever heard of puppy dogs?"

"Well, you were one of 11 kids and you had your own dog, didn’t you?" she asked as if she stood one up on me.

"But I shared my Border Collie," I insisted. "That was the family’s only pet. The only fish we’ve ever had were the trout we caught each spring," I added.

My parents were smart. The horses, cows, pigs, chickens and ducks belonged to all of us. That meant all of us had to pitch in each day to feed and care for them.

"Do I have to remember their names, talk and even sing to them while I feed them?" I asked, more out of facetiousness than anything.

My facetiousness either missed its mark or else she just decided to ignore it. "Oh, that’s entirely up to you. But if you do, make sure you get their names straight. You wouldn’t want the grandkids to find out you were calling them by the wrong names, now, would you?"

I suddenly felt as if I was living in Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone.

"It helps to remember their names, so I‘ll write them down for you,‘ she offered. "The new beta AnnaMay just got is called Sky Guy. Della’s fish is also a beta. It’s name is TJ. And not to be forgotten is Mia’s fish, another beta. She calls it George."

"That’s only three, Peggy," I said, reminding her I could still count. "Either I forgot in my old age or else you missed one."

"The last one, just like the others, is also in a separate tank. It belongs to Nina. She calls it Bubbles," the good wife informed me.

"Oh, such a nice sweet name for a nice sweet fish. At least it sounds like a nice fish. Is it also a beta?" I asked.

"It’s a shark," she said. "A six inch shark."

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