Today is the day Grandma Fishie went to sleep, and didn't wake up, 22 years ago.
For two-thirds of my life, Grandma Fishie has been gone. I really can't fathom that. She passed away when I was 10 years old. I can't remember much from when I was 10 years old, but I remember that, and most everything we did together up to then. And everything we've done together since.
When I was somewhere around 2nd grade, Grandma got me a lamb. A real lamb. They always had cows and dogs and other animals out at the fish farm, but for some reason, they had sheep that year. And she gave me my very own baby lamb! I think maybe she felt sorry for me. My Mom had just moved us all to a new town, I had no friends, and a student at the beauty school had just permed my hair to look like Little Orphan Annie. A boy at school had tugged on my hair and laughed, said it looked like a wig. I was devastated. So, she gave me Gabby. And Gabby made everything better.
If you've never seen a baby lamb up close, I've got to tell you, it's the cutest thing in the world. Gabby loved me like I was her mother, and she probably thought I was, since I was the one feeding her. She never stopped talking, hence the name Gabby. Grandma taught me how to make her bottle - a BIG bottle, and she would follow me around all day, looking for more. Hungry little critter. I washed her with the hose when she got muddy, I cuddled and played with her on the grass. We were best buddies.
Grandma read in the paper that at the "Scio Lamb Show" this year, there was going to be a "Fastest Bottle-Drinking" competition, and we both knew Gabby would win. There were no restrictions on the age of the sheep, or the age of the owner, just the amount of milk in the bottle. Gabby and I practiced every day - and she was happy for it!
The day of the Lamb Show competition arrived. I was so excited I could barely sit still. We loaded Gabby in a crate in the back of Grandma's truck, and off we went. I didn't like her back there, it seemed cramped, and I didn't want her to be nervous for the big day. She whined and bawled the whole way to town. At the competition, we got Gabby out, tied a rope to her collar, and went in to this little arena where the bottle-drinking would take place. There were about a dozen other people in there with their sheep. And they were ALL OLD SHEEP! I thought this was a LAMB SHOW! Where were all the LAMBS? Gabby was the only little one, and I knew we had a lot of work to do. The announcer explained the rules, and we all got ready. Gabby's bottle wasn't a regular bottle. It was a 20oz beer bottle, emptied out and filled with milk, with a nipple duct-taped to the top. We had been so excited, we forgot her bottle, and had to make a new one at the show.
The announcer fired his toy gun, and off we went! We hadn't fed Gabby that morning, so she would be extra hungry and drink her milk faster - and it worked! She was sucking on that nipple like she'd never had a meal before! She was so excited that she jumped and kicked and nearly knocked me over. In the excitement, our makeshift bottle came apart, spilling half the milk all over Gabby's head and my jeans and shoes! All of a sudden we were done! And I held up the empty bottle and screamed "WE DID IT!" After careful inspection of the bottle's remains, the judge announced with a wink, "WE HAVE A WINNER!" We won, we won, we won!
For our big prize, Gabby and I got a blue ribbon, a $25.oo savings bond, and a statue of a sheep titled "FASTEST BOTTLE-DRINKING LAMB" that also doubled as a piggy bank. I was on top of the world! I still have that statue today, sitting on my book shelf in my room. It is one of the proudest moments of my life!
Thanks Grandma! I miss you, and I love you! And I'll never forget.