In Loving Memories of Mei Mei (28 Mar 1993 – 4 May 2008)May 4, 2008 at 10:43 pm | Posted in itchy fingers | 1 Comment
Tags: Family, Life, Nature
Today is a very sad and tragic day for Itchyfingers. My beloved Red Eared Slider turtle Mei Mei passed away this morning, less than three months past her fifteen birthday. Of course I do not know the exact birth date of my baby, so I took the date I had her as her birthday. Mei Mei became part of the family fifteen years ago as a little baby turtle the size of a fifty cent coin. She was the second turtle to join our family of four babies. As a young girl she was like any other turtle, but as she grew up her shell turned upwards over time and she was the first turtle I knew and saw with an upturned shell. Not knowing why, I turned to the internet and found out it might be a case of her body growing much faster then her shell. So in a way she was deformed, but she was always healthy and had a good appetite and was active for her size.
Mei Mei was a sweet nature girl. She was never stingy in giving rides for her other smaller friends. She was very popular among the two boys probably because of her good looks and turtle charm, and she was always their target for cheek-teasing, a pre-mating ritual among Red Eared Sliders. But for some reasons she always rejected her suitors, making her all the more desirable to the boys. One of my boy Mark Mark was literally crazy about her! But as boys are more aggressive and territorial (or maybe possessive in Mark Mark’s case), he would try to give ‘love bite’ to Mei Mei whenever his courtship ritual failed to impress her, strangely always on her right arm (actually it’s the foreleg) and refused to let go. That was the only time Mei Mei would try to bite back to free herself.
I treat all my turtles as my babies, and my love for them made me an obsessive collector of anything turtle related – from turtle toys, pendants, bookmarks, books, tee-shirts, stamps etc to even newspaper clippings on turtle news. I will feel sad if I read about news on illegal smugglings of turtles and how many had died on the way. Almost all my friends or even colleagues know I love turtles. I cannot explain my love for turtles, it seems to be love at first sight, and I simply marvel the way they were created. Turtles are always protrayed as a sign of determination and honesty, as in the story of Tortoise and Hare. To me, they have strong characters and great personality.
So it was really a heart breaking and emotionally draining experience when I lost my Mei Mei today. I do not know if it was negligence on my part or plain ignorance. She was not moving this morning when I woke up and greeted all my babies as usual. Despite the fact that deep in my heart I knew she was gone, we rushed her to the animal hospital, hoping for a miracle to happen. I was already crying and calling her name constantly, hoping she would wake up. When the vet told me she had no more heartbeat and she had passed away, I started to be in a state of self-denial, and insisted on going to the vet next door for a second verdict. No. I was not lucky. Mei Mei was not lucky. She was gone….
I was devastated. I was unconsolable. I blamed myself. I should have spent more time with her. I should have loved her more. We brought her back home where I took my other babies one by one to take a last look at Mei Mei. I don’t know if they understand what had happened but I believed in animal instinct. They know. Mei Mei would not be playing with them anymore. My mind was a blank and I could not think of what to do. Should I bury her or should I pass her to my ornithologist friend to help preserve her body? I simply couldn’t bear her leaving me like that. Finally it was decided that Mei Mei should rest in peace in a nice quiet place. The grasses downstairs would not be a good idea as my place seemed to be under some sort of upgrading or construction forever. I would not want her to be disturbed or dug out and discarded. Maybe the catchment area at the reservior would be a nice place, cos the area will never be used for other development.
You can call me silly. But together with Tisu Boy, we did the silliest thing most people on earth would think of us. We went to buy Mei Mei a plastic container to put her body, and also some grapes (all my turtles love grapes) and some lovely flowers to lay in her ‘casket’ as well as simple gardening tool to dig the grave. Then carefully, we arranged them in the container before laying Mei Mei inside. By now, her limbs had turned stiff and it was another heart drenching time for me to try to squeeze her in the otherwise big enough container. We did these in the carpark at the reservoir and one uncle who came for his car must had thought what was going on. But I didn’t care. I only had one Mei Mei and now that she had gone, I want to make her look nice and find her a nice place to rest.
Finding the resting place wasn’t easy, as I don’t think it is allowed to dig on public grounds. We found a nice shady grass patch facing the water under a tree and started digging while constantly on the lookout for any park ranger. We took more than an hour to dig and keep watch, as well as putting Mei Mei’s casket in to try out if the dug out hole was deep enough. Finally we gave up the spot as there were monkey roaming around and I wouldn’t want them to dig her out after we left thinking that there were food inside the container. Also, with many park visitors around it was too conspicuous if we continued to dig any deeper.
It was then decided that maybe Mei Mei wanted to be buried somewhere near so I can visit her often. In the end we buried her at one of the secluded grass patch near my house. It wasn’t an ideal spot but at least she is nearer to me so I can check on her regularly to see if there’s any disturbance.
Tears kept rolling down my face as I remember her here now. We took many last pictures of Mei Mei before covering her up with earth but I couldn’t bring myself to look at them now. May you rest in peace Mei Mei and go to a beautiful Turtle Paradise, with good food, great basking areas, clean pools of water and lots of love and friends. Your sister will always remember all the wonderful time we had together and the joy you had brought along to this family.