Thursday, 19 July 2012

A friend of ours died

on Saturday. We were not told. I doubt anyone but the couple who went in to help her feed the animals were told.
There is an announcement in today's paper but no notice about a funeral. I suspect it has already taken place and that it will have been a private occasion.
Whatever arrangements she may have tried to make for herself may well have been ignored.
Our friend was a veterinary surgeon. She had a practice several streets from our house. When we had cats we used her services. My sister used to go and clip poodles for her - in the days before there were hairdressing salons for dogs. We knew each other in other ways as well, the Guiding movement, environmental and animal welfare groups, a church youth movement were all part of the equation.
She was small in stature and a giant in personality. The zoo consulted her regularly. It was some of her research which led to the development of the formula used for feeding the orphan young wombats and kangaroos. It saved countless young animals who would previously have perished.
I went in and out several times a week, usually with spare greens people had given me to help her feed the animals.
She would pass a bottle over to me if I arrived at feeding time and say,
         "Here feed...."
Then she would name one of her young charges. They all had names, unexpected names. She would name them after airlines, vehicles, trees, people she had once known.
The local bakery provided extra bread - and the occasional sticky bun for the wombats. People who visited would slip her a few extra dollars to help with the feeding costs. It was an expensive business. At one time there were twenty-three kangaroos. There were wallabies, potaroos, wombats, possums and other creatures.
She kept the animals there because they could not, by law, be returned to the wild. She used them to educate people about native wild life. The local children would descend in swarms to "help".  Her abruptness did not worry them at all. Underneath they knew that she loved them being there as much as she loved the animals in her care.
As she grew older she was less mobile. Several years ago we were offered a second gopher, almost new. The owner had died and the family wanted it to go to someone who could use it.  We offered it to her to get around the property. Yes, if it helped her look after her animals she would use it. The tray loaded with feed she countinued to feed, observe and care for the animals.
Two years ago one of her children moved in and things changed. People were no longer made as welcome. She had to accept it because she could no longer manage alone. We had to accept it too. It was not a happy state of affairs but she continued to care for the animals she had but not take in any new ones. The number grew less but more manageable. I do not know how many animals she had left but I know they would still have known her.
I wonder what sort of parting ceremony there was. Perhaps no church would have been big enough to hold those who would have wanted to attend her funeral - and animals are not usually allowed to attend church.


dandeliongirl said...

That is very sad

catdownunder said...

It just seems so strange not to say goodbye.

widdershins said...

how sad that her farewell to this world didn't happen to include the people who most wanted to be there.

... them 'oomins are a weird mob!

catdownunder said...

We are weird aren't we? Someone in the next street was talking to us an hour or so back and just said, "Weird."