Fish Eyes (The Saga of Wa-Wa)
Wa-Wa is my daughter Shannon’s stuffed fish. Wa-Wa is a white and pink striped fish approximately 5 inches long weighing a mere one pound. You can’t weigh love. Shannon carried Wa-Wa religiously for as long as I can remember. Wa-Wa went on camping trips, to school, and to church. Wa-Wa made many driving trips to Maryland, several to Orlando, Florida, and many to the beach. Wa-Wa’s versatility knew no bounds as that fish traveled in luggage, backpacks, and jacket pockets.
Wa-Wa got left at a Pizza Hut once after we’d gone out to dinner. I got to employ my police emergency response driving skills as I drove at a high rate of speed safely negotiating the apexes of the turns. I got to the Pizza Hut in record time as we found Wa-Wa before anything could happen to the wayward fish. I’ve gone back into many a hotel room, rechecked a few vehicle rest stops, and searched people’s houses for a missing Wa-Wa. We went through this process with my oldest son and his Binky, then my middle son and his Blankie, but none had the resiliency of Wa-Wa.
I remember my world falling apart as I stood in Saint John’s Catholic Church where I grew up and was baptized. Sadly, I was there for my parent’s dual funeral. Dad died of cancer while taking care of Mom. Mom just stopped breathing at the Alzheimer’s Center. The nurses said it was the psychic link they see all the time between long time married couples. I was able to hold it together until halfway through the church service when the realization of Mom and Dad’s deaths finally hit me. I started to sob in violent bursts like old soldiers do at military funerals. My friend from high school football literally supported me from the row behind me. Out of the corner of my eye I could see my daughter Shannon rubbing the eyes of Wa-Wa with her thumbs.
Shannon would rub the eyes of the stuffed fish whenever she was stressed out. Seeing her Father in emotional agony made her rub the eyes so hard that one popped off and flew across the church. I remember seeing the button eye flying across the church towards the altar in a looping arch in slow motion like I was outside myself watching time move. The second eye would also go missing during that road trip to bury my parents and the emotional baggage that went with the eight hundred mile drive. When the smoke settled, we found replacement eyes. These eyes were selected by Shannon at the fabric store and were sewn on by me, her Father. I was taught how to sew by my Mother. Life is funny like that sometimes. It’s like one big circle.
I hope Shannon never tires of that fish and always keeps her youthful spirit. We all grow up too fast and lose touch with that innocence like the love for a stuffed animal. I hope Shannon keeps Wa-Wa and always remembers my love for her.