The Mind of Anne

Archive for March, 2016

March 11th, 2016 Big Pink is Dead

Big Pink in his Big Tank

Big Pink in his Big Tank

As a teenager, I had a friend named Donna. I loved visiting her home. There were kids and dogs and lots of activity. And they had the biggest fish tank I have ever seen. It was so peaceful to look at and I loved watching the fish interact with each other. I could get lost in that tank forever. I knew I wanted to raise tropical fish of my very own. I used money I saved from babysitting and bought a 10-gallon tank plus the supplies I needed to take care of the dozen or so fish I brought home in plastic bags. One of these fish was a kissing gourami. He looked friendly and I loved the kissy faces he made. This fish species would be the mainstay of all future tanks.

As time went on, I learned more about tropical fish care and bought a larger tank – a wonderful 30-gallon long tank. I was newly married and felt as an official grownup, I deserved an upgrade. As years went by, fish would die to no surprise since they have didn’t have very long life spans. However, I had some really old (and very big) bleeding heart tetras, swordtails (always named Capt. and Lady Swordtail) and the ever-present kissing gourami.

Donna would come over and inevitably she’d check out the tank and give me some notes. I felt very proud of my fish tank and enjoyed watching the fish as they explored their habitat. Donna died in a freak skiing accident just before we turned 35. It broke me heart and saddens me to this day. However, I continued to relish our common interest in tropical fish and felt loyal to her in doing so.

In about 1995, according to my daughter, I got a new kissing gourami. (There is a story about a boy and kissy faces, which I’ll spare you, but it narrows down the year.) The old gourami had died and I needed a new focal point for my tank. This gourami grew and grew. As other fish came and went, the gourami thrived. Another friend named Billy loved watching that gourami and joked that he was almost big enough to make a good sandwich. He gave my gourami his name – Big Pink.


Big Pink as a Young Fish

Big Pink continued to grow but remained gentle. He left even the tiniest neon tetra alone and gracefully moved throughout the tank. No one messed with him but he never used his great size for harm. He was no bully.

My friend, Billy, died in 2005, just after his 54th birthday. He had survived a life-threatening illness and just when we thought it was all over, he suffered some complications and passed. It was fast. It was devastating. It broke my heart and saddens me to this very day. Big Pink carried on. It made me smile to remember how Billy would check him out in awe and of course, how he gave him his name.

A little over a year ago two events happened simultaneously – I was doing a complete tear out and remodeling of my kitchen and my son was moving into a new apartment. The pleasure of having a fish tank throughout his entire childhood influenced my son so it was natural that he had a small fish tank of his own. We both needed to dismantle our tanks to move them. I decided it was time to pass the gauntlet so I gave my son my big tank and all the fish including Big Pink.

The tank fit well in the apartment and my son has cared for it and all the fish with great diligence. Unfortunately, last night, Big Pink died. He wasn’t in distress. He was just a really old fish, possibly 21 years old.

Big Pink’s death makes me a little sad but more, it helps me remember. I think of Donna and Billy, of course, but also I remember my kids as young children, gazing at the fish as they sat in the kitchen eating their breakfast. I think of parties where Big Pink was a much-admired decoration of sorts and a unique conversation starter. And I remember my daughter’s cat, Smokey, who used to sit and watch Big Pink for hours and comment with a double meow when I entered the room.

Big Pink got his burial at sea. His great size prohibited the traditional and undignified flushing so my son released him in a nearby river. It seems silly to offer a toast or a celebration for the life of a pet fish but I think I must oblige. Here’s to you, Big Pink (raising a glass). Thanks for the memories.