November Thanks #3 | 3 Gifts that Start with N

A thirty-day exercise in pausing, reflecting, appreciating, and giving thanks for simple things.

For more than twelve years, maybe closer to fifteen, we shared our home with NicktheTurtle. We brought this turtle home from the pet shop when it was just big enough that it could legally be sold. The pet shop owner told us it was a male turtle and about 5 or 6 years old, but honestly, how would he have known? There was a small piece of the shell missing in what is best described as the right hind quarter, so NicktheTurtle was named. My daughter, who is now attending graduate school to become a veterinarian, was Nick’s owner. She was a great owner for the first few years, but then demands on her time in high school relegated all the feeding and tank cleaning responsibilities to me. Then my daughter moved away to college and no animals were allowed in the dorm, so Nick truly became my pet. I was pretty ignorant about turtles and had I known they can live for twenty years or more, I would have been more forceful about not ever bringing Nick home in the first place.

Over time, we discovered Nick was a very social animal. The tank was near our kitchen table and whenever we gathered for a meal, Nick would swim and try to get our attention. Whenever someone stopped to say hi to Nick, the turtle always paid attention. I am certain Nick could tell the difference in our voices. One morning I went to turn on the tank’s light and discovered an egg in the water. It was the oddest thing because it looked just like a chicken egg, just a bit smaller. That was how we discovered that NicktheTurtle should have been named Nickie. Despite our best efforts to remind ourselves that we were dealing with another female pet, old habits are hard to die. She was Nick, and always would be.

About this time last year, we noticed Nick wasn’t eating. We tried all kinds of foods and treats, and once in a while we could get her to eat, but mostly she just wasn’t interested. Turtles are known to go for stretches of days without eating, so we didn’t worry too much about it. Then early this year, Nick became listless and inactive. With my daughter away at grad school, we felt an obligation to take Nick to a vet to be checked out. Surprisingly, there was a vet about ten minutes away who handled turtles and other reptiles. The vet said Nick was very healthy, had a very healthy shell, but based on the symptoms we described the vet figured Nick had a respiratory infection. We were sent home with a dozen shots of antibiotics and instructions in how to administer one shot each day. Sadly, Nick died during the night and I found her in the morning in the bottom of the tank. Sometimes we don’t know how much we like something until it is removed from our lives. Nick may have entered our lives as a small little turtle, but over time she became a treasured pet. Some mornings I still find myself going over to the spot where the tank used to sit, out of habit, to turn on the tank’s light for the day. Old habits are hard to break.

Another gift that begins with the letter N is a necklace my husband gave me about a year or so after we were married. It is a gold byzantine chain, very simple, but very pretty. It fits my style well, and I wear it often.

For me, finding three gifts that begin with the letter N has been quite a challenge. I’ve been contemplating it since I wrote my entry yesterday and the best I can come up with for the third item is the gift of nieces and nephews. Wait, I shouldn’t phrase it in that way—the best I can come up with—because I have some really awesome nieces and nephews. In fact, my siblings alone (not counting my husband’s family) gave me twelve nieces and ten nephews. And now those nieces and nephews have made me a great aunt! Several times! We may not see each other often enough, but it’s a great joy to have such a large extended family.

And so there you have it, 3 Gifts that Start with N.

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