92. The Joint Funeral of Pooky and Hermes

92. The Joint Funeral of Pooky and Hermes

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Family Matters


The Joint Funeral of Pooky and Hermes

I love being married. It’s so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life.

~Rita Rudner

The hurricane ripped through my house every Sunday morning before church. The front closet was torn apart every time my parents were going to a nice dinner, or she had an important business meeting. I thought she would stop looking for it when we moved houses, since she obviously didn’t find it when she packed, but she didn’t. And now, fifteen years later, my father still performs the obligatory search before every holiday and play opening.

The object of this search: a pale pink Hermes scarf.

She bought it on her first trip to New York City; it was her one extravagance. My mother has never had a particular flair for fashion. I don’t think she even stepped into a Gap store until I was in high school. She bought the scarf without having anything to wear with it, and it literally changed her wardrobe.

It’s been missing all these years. Since before I can remember, or… could remember. You see, a few weeks ago during a memory exercise in my advanced writing class, I solved the mystery of the missing scarf. It came to me as I shared a story about my first pet and first funeral: my hamster, Pooky. My classmates laughed, and I might have, too, if I had not been so terrified that my discovery would be relayed to her before I could get her on the phone to explain.

The scarf was a beautiful color of pink, light as a feather, and so soft to the touch that when I brought home Pooky for the first time, it was the only thing in which I could hold the poor thing to keep him from whimpering. Pooky became unusually attached to the scarf after that. So much so that when my mother went to the city for her weekly schedule of business meetings shortly thereafter, I arranged the scarf into a bed in Pooky’s cage to keep him calm and warm. I congratulated myself on being such a good provider. I was a mother for the first time, and Pooky had fulfilled all my seven-year-old hopes and dreams from the moment he shuffled through the woodchips to curl up in my hand.

Pooky didn’t last long. In fact, by the time Mom came home three days later, Pooky was dead and buried.

I was recalling this memory when it struck me. Suddenly, I had a vivid memory of my dad, feigning surprise at my lack of mothering capabilities and digging a shoebox out of the hall closet. He sat down next to me where I lay next to Pooky’s cage, crying uncontrollably in my typical overly dramatic fashion. He gently tugged on the fabric and out rolled Pooky’s stiff, egg-like body, still clinging to the scarf. I remembered Dad looking at me, with my eyes all red from crying, and then at the scarf, before he sighed and lifted Pooky and the scarf out of the cage and into the shoebox.

We buried Pooky in the plot of dirt outside my window. His cross would be joined by many others in the coming years, though none of the other victims would be lucky enough to be buried with such an heirloom.

I considered coming clean to my mom after that class and telling her that I knew exactly where she could finally find her long-lost luxury item. I rehearsed a long, tearful apology and researched the cost to replace it for her for Christmas. Eventually, I worked up the nerve to tell her.

I came home to find my parents arguing over what shirt my dad would wear to a play opening. My mom, with one shoe on and mascara wand in hand, was running around in her usual frenzied way, waving a striped shirt in his face and complaining that the one he had chosen an hour ago made him look like his mother. I sat down with the dog and watched the exchange in amusement as if it were a tennis match, our heads flipping back and forth, back and forth. Finally, she threw down the shirt and huffed away, mumbling something about how she had always hated that shirt until she disappeared in the bathroom.

I thought that maybe tonight wasn’t the best time to give my confession. I looked back at my dad. He was grinning from ear to ear. “Are you going to change shirts?” I asked him. He looked at the shirt, then at me, then at the bathroom door, and said, “I’ll let her stew about it for a bit longer.” And he winked at me.

It was then I realized that, while I may have buried Hermes alive that day, I was still a kid. My seven-year-old self was obviously not aware of the significance of such an item. It took me fifteen years to remember my crime against fashion. But my father knew. All these years, he knew exactly where the scarf was, and he had never told. Instead, he diligently went through every closet and would consistently come up empty-handed.

I smiled. My dad emerged from his room, newly striped, just as my mother came raring out of the bathroom, this time with both shoes on, ready for round two. He kissed her on the head, and she sighed happily.

“Twenty-five years, kid,” he said to me, smiling. “I do what I can.”

I decided to let him have his fun. I kept my mouth shut. And ordered the most expensive pale pink scarf from Hermes.com.

~Alex Kingcott

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