Not your average fish tale

Published 12:45 am Sunday, September 11, 2011

Over a year and a half ago, my husband and I caved in to our children and decided to get a goldfish. The promises to feed and care for it were made by all parties involved. After a bit of “suggestive selling” at PetSmart, we walked out with a mid-sized tank, colored rocks, a net, coral outcropping, food, water purifier, heater and six TROPICAL Mickey Mouse tail platys.

During Day One of ownership, it started.

“Mama, a Mickey is swimming sideways, no floating sideways, no sinking … we got another dead one,” my children called out.

Before long, we were out of fish. My sister-in-law came to my rescue with two more fish she picked up on her way home from work. I relaxed a bit … all would be right with the world.

Two days later, we were down to a funky floating teeny tiny ball. I kept examining that ball, wondering where it had come from and how I was going to fish it out, when it moved, purposefully! It was an eye; an eye with a body, fins and a tail attached! I called my husband screaming about the impossibility of it all and showed my kids the Pollock’s newest bundle of joy, all of which was lost on them.

For me, it was a miracle – the Immaculate Conception of fish as far as I could tell. I nurtured that fish and cared for him with everything I had.

After a time, as with anything new, the novelty wears off, the newness of it all fades and I relegated that fish to the bottom of my list of priorities. He was full sized now and didn’t need me. I fed him most days, changed the water when I could no longer see through the tank and all but ignored my fish.

The heat pump burned out. I forgot to go buy a new one.

His light bulb blew out. I forgot to replace it.

My life was busy and he was all but forgotten.

One day, I decided to clean out the tank. It was way overdue, the stench a bit overwhelming. As I cleaned, there he was, looking right at me. He didn’t swim away and hide during all the commotion. He had grown from but a speck and was thriving. He had persevered through everything negative I could throw his way. Every time I sat down at the table or moved near that tank he was right there looking for me. Regardless of it all or maybe in spite of it all, he was still there waiting for me. He believed in me.

I was no longer going to take him for granted. I thought about the whole “fish thing” long and hard. I said a little prayer in thanks for my fish and named him Jesus.

There is a lesson in here somewhere amongst the tales of fish and mucky water, take from it what you will. But, do know that in spite of it all and because of it all, this life we are living is pretty amazing, we just need to have a little faith.

A Yankee with a Southern soul, Gillian Pollock is a wife, mother of two ever-challenging children and director of Christian Formation at Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church in Washington.