no, this isn’t another bit about michael jackson…
…or ed, or farrah, or john hughes, or any of those hollywood types. it’s about THIS icon:
yes, tish has left the building. and on a side note, why does my neck look so bullfrogish in this pic? it’s not EVEN that fat from what i see in the mirror. but that’s not what this is about.
a bit of history…
i took a semester off college when i first graduated high school and became close friends with a goth girl (prior to the term “goth” being coined) named kim who was really cool AND had a red-tailed boa…and after playing with hers so much i SO wanted one – but i was broke, and they were pricey, so it got pushed off till my twenty-first birthday. his name was clarence (named after a line in shake your rump from the beasties).
never heard about that one, did ya?
got him in june of ’92 – but he had BIG health issues (a deformed nose) and so he had issues eating, and he died about six weeks later. i was upset, and the zoo keeper guys said they “owed me”.
that fall (september) when i got my pell grant (your tax dollars at work!) part of it went to get a snake – and to combat the issues of newborns, they ordered me a year old female columbian redtail boa. they called to tell me she was in, and my buddy lance (who’s terrified of snakes) drove me up there to get her. when we arrived they were slammed, so unescorted i found her in the tank with my name on it, pulled her out without issue, and was playing with her when one of the guys walked up behind me, but didn’t see she was curled up around my forearm…
dude, we’re gonna have to send that female yearling columbian back and get you another – she’s TOO aggressive. hell, she’s bitten two of the guys here and you should hear the story about the one time we fed her…
i turned around and he saw her on my arm. nobody else could pick her up without getting nipped at – i had done it without issue. it was meant to be. in damn near seventeen years (sixteen years, eleven months, and a week if you wanna split hairs) i only got bit by her once, and that was when i broke the golden rule of reaching in front of her having just handled food. she always had an appetite – which not all snakes do.
the one time she got fed in the store she was (at two feet and some change) sharing a tank with a four foot burmese python. they through a mouse in figuring the python would eat first, but tish beat it over to the food and ate. they threw in a second – the burmese struck and strangled it…but when it straightened out to eat, tish went over to the burm, threw a couple coils around it’s neck, and squeezed till it dropped the food…then ate that one, too. that story, coupled with her biting everyone at zoo keeper, got her the name morticia, after the character in the addam’s family movie, which i think had just came out that summer. i called her “tish” for short.
that appetite lasted her whole life – only six weeks ago when i last fed her (at her size eating every six to eight weeks is normal) i fed her, and fed the much younger, smaller, guyana boa i have. she devoured hers – but the other boa didn’t eat (he’s fussy about that sometimes). instead of trashing his (as i often did) i pulled it out, dusted bedding off it, and tossed it in with tish – she wolfed that one down, too.
six weeks later i went to feed her and she didn’t eat. refused food for the first time since before clinton got elected the first time. that’s usually a bad sign.
a few years ago i noticed a weird lump in her side. i got it removed (and did a bit about the drugs she was on for the surgery, as i recall) and they said if it DID come back it might be something serious. it came back – but only in the last few months did it balloon up and start to consume her body mass…the pic above tells the tail. she was thin, but not alarmingly so, and if you look next to the pinky of the hand closest to her head you can see the lump – protrudes a quarter to a half an inch, and is about two inches long max. the bump first reappeared a couple years ago (only about a year after her first surgery) quickly got the size you see in the pic (which was taken in late march of this year) and then STAYED that size. she always hid it under a log, or was coiled up just right, so i never saw it again really until sunday (a week prior to this post) – when it now protruded more like two inches, and was almost four to five inches long – and she had gotten HELLA skinny. that’s when i called dr. bob – an appointment was made, and she was scheduled to go in thursday morning.
she almost didn’t survive wednesday night – i had been force soaking her to keep her clean, warm her up, and get some of the skin that had NOT come off in her last shed off. last night when i went to pull her out (i’d done this monday and tuesday night, too) her head was upside down and under water – when i pulled her out water was pouring out of her mouth and she was limp in my hands. i put her in her tank and started sqeezing her abdomen – water pumped out of her mouth and she started to breathe again and came back to life…this made me wonder if she’d even survive being put under – which it turns out she didn’t. they sedated her for her surgery thursday morning, but was dead before she hit the table. when they made the first incision she didn’t even bleed – that’s how much the tumor had incapacitated her heart…the drugs took care of the rest, and she basically drifted off to sleep never to return.
i’ll spare you the tumor details, but suffice to say the vet took pics of it.
she’ll be buried in my side yard, where julie is as well (my dog from 1985 – 2000). although not at fun and playful as copper or calum might be (or have been, in calum’s case) tish held a special place in my heart because my dad owned snakes when he and mom first got married, so she had no fear of them…she used to enjoy playing with her when i had her out. so outside of me, she’s the only living thing in this house that was “touched by the hand of mom”, as it were…now it’s just me left.
glad i don’t have any strange lumps in my side.
this was supposed to be a semi-funny bit about my mom, since her sixty-ninth birthday would have been tomorrow – but since she got a present from me (a snake to play with) i think i’ll wrap this one here, and hope that wherever her spirit is she’s doing well, and enjoying a little tish time like she used to…