Monday, October 5, 2009

Pipke's Very Last Journey

Already a few days before... we had prepared everything for Pipke's last journey.
We'd expected it much earlier but she was a fighter, she would not give up so easy, and now it had happened... Pipke was no longer there. She had lost her very last battle after such a fierce fight, now she had peace.
I held her still warm but lifeless little body in my arms as long as I could. We gave her a last cuddle and laid her to rest in her plastic container. It was her own container, she traveled in it 295 times to the vet and also at least 15 times to the children's farm which we visited when she was only a few months old. She knew that container very well, when she saw it she knew that it meant: going to the vet.
Many years before the vet had handed us a brochure with information about a crematorium for animals. Every time Pipke went ill we were afraid that we had to use it, and now we had to, it became reality.
My husband called the crematorium to make an appointment. They asked us which animal it concerned. Of course they were very surprised to hear that it went about: a duck. That was something that they had not yet encountered. First they said that they didn't cremate farm animals (to prevent the spread of contagious diseases), but when we told them the name off our vet and that he had given us their address, that she was a pet and never had contact with other ducks, they agreed.
We could bring her to them.
They expected us at 3.45 PM. They told us that it was important to keep her as cold as possible and therefore we kept Pipke in her container (well covered) outside, at the place where once her dog's nest stood.
In the meantime we tried to sleep but we didn't succeed in it, we were too much occupied with what had happened and what still would go to happen. Before we had to leave we gave her still a cuddle... she felt so cold now! It was a creepy sensation, after to have felt her warmth all those years.
Our heart broke when we left the house with her for the last time. As usual we turned on the alarm installation.
That makes a beeping noise ... it made her always aware that we went, and it also warned her when we came back home (then the beep was longer).
It was every time such a warm welcome when we came back home, she could be so happy to see us back. Then she started quacking very loud.. and when the back door opened then not soon enough she knocked with her beak on the door until it went open. (You can compare it with the welcome a dog gives you.)
Then it was time to cuddle! She had so much to tell us then, of course in her own language, the whole time quacking and making funny noises. Thereafter we had to make a walk in the garden and then my hubby searched together with her after earth worms. That was a real treat for her, and when the worms came not quick enough to the surface (my hubby planted a fork in the soil and knocked on it, and so they were forced to come to the surface) she began to peck on my hubby's shoes as if she was saying: come on man ... let them come!

Anyhow, we drove to the crematorium in silence. That silence was only broken off to pick up memories of the happy times together with her, or to talk about her last days. We still tried to convince ourselves that we had done what we thought was best for her. We comforted each other with the words: it has been a good time together with her ... we never had wanted to miss it.
When we arrived at the crematorium they received us with sympathy. They asked us of course how it came that we had a duck as pet and we told them the short story of Pipke. They could understand that we had such a close bond with her, they understood our grief. They said that they had even snakes and iguana to cremate, animals with a much less charming appearance than Pipke, but also much loved by the owners.
They took the container with Pipke, they would prepare her so that we could say farewell to her.
After a while they brought us to a small hall (screened with a curtain) which was situated right in front of the furnace. We could take as much time as we liked to say farewell.
What disturbed us when we entered that small place was ... the noise of the burner... that was such a creepy noise ... it seemed almost if the burner was impatient and greedy to consume his next prey. Pipke was now literally his “sitting duck” (as they say in English).
She lay there on a small table on a plaid with dogs foot prints (of course they had no duck foot prints in stock). She was covered with a small blanket, only showing her head and neck. The place was beautiful decorated and only lightened by burning candles. It was very hot in there.
First we stood there for a while in silence, then we took a few pictures, gave her a cuddle and kissed her for the very last time.

When we came outside they comforted us and suggested us to wait in a salon while the cremation took place. It would be finished after an half hour. They offered us a cup of coffee and if we liked we could watch National Geographic on TV, but we were not interested in it.
While we were waiting there we saw that a van arrived. A man and a woman stepped out and opened the back door and then a young corpulent huge guy stepped out, it seemed almost a giant. He behaved very weird ... swinging his arms to all directions ... gesturing ... talking loud. They brought a very large black dead dog, covered with a blanket ... we only could see his head. Thereafter we saw the young guy in an other small hall (the curtains were not closed) hugging his dog while he still kept swinging his hands, walking back and forth around the dog. We both thought that there was something wrong with this young man, this was not only grief.

After waiting half an hour they asked us to come to the office to fill in the required papers and to choose an urn. We chose one in the form of a little heart, a golden one.
While we were waiting for Pipke's remains we talked with the lady behind the desk about animals and the influence they can have on someone's life.

Then she asked us if we had seen that heavy huge young guy.
She told us that this was such an extreme sad story.
That young giant was a mentally retarded boy, not yet 18 years old. He had periods that he became very violent, he even attacked his parents, they were afraid to be alone in the house with him. Therefore they had bought him this dog when he was only 11 years old, and since then it went much better with him. There still had been moments of very aggressive behavior but then the dog could calm him down. The parents had tried to find a place for him in a mentally retarded relief center for the weekends (to have a break, to have some rest) but they found no place for him because they couldn't handle him, they couldn't keep him under control.
Now that young guy's best friend was dead, the best that could happen to him, to calm him down was no longer there! Now he had no more grip on his life and the parents had lost not only a best friend but also their greatest support in hard times.
They were afraid for what was going to happen now, they didn't know what they could expect.
They were downhearted, afraid to go home. Their life must be a nightmare.

After this conversation the lady on the desk handed us Pipke's golden heart and a certificate that declared that the ashes in it were Pipke's. They said that only two tablespoons remained of her tiny body.

When we drove home we were sad, but our sadness faded for a while when we thought on the parents and their retarded giant and we said to each other: life isn't fair!

Coming home ... I must not describe it ... you can imagine.
We took Pipke's golden heart and gave it a special place. Since then we strike her heart often when we pass by, when we are going to sleep ... every morning that we awake.

Now we must learn to live with her absence and that's not easy. In the garden we still find feathers of her covered under the plants.
They say: time heals all wounds ... I hope that this wound will heal also ... but it will leave behind a great scar.
From now on our life will be divided in two parts ... the time together with Pipke ... and the time after.
That time thereafter is of less importance for me ... I prefer to think on the time with her ... on the beautiful happy moments we had together. The best part of our life!
We have many film pictures of her and I will show them to you in the near future. So you can see how she really was: a happy wonderful little creature!
Two days after she died my husband discovered that he forgot to rip off the blades from the almanac which hangs in our garage. That was something he never forgot ... it seemed as if the world had stood still!
My husband got tears in his eyes when he read the text on the reverse side of Monday September 14*, it said:
In an embittered world a drop of love is as an
ocean in the desert .

The love she gave us had the equivalent of all oceans together.
We are so grateful for it

PS:* I can hear you thinking out loud now: she is inventing this, this suits well in the story!
No, I'm really telling the truth, here is the proof! (see picture)
Translate the left text below, this is the reverse side of the blade.


  1. we know you arent making anything up, the love you had with her is that obvious. i have not been keeping up with you blogs like i would like, i have been in california for a week and you have been a busy women! i am looking forward to catching up.

  2. You can make a story more beautiful by adding things that didn't happened, and that's something I don't want to do.
    I write what we have experienced and have felt, and that was very special.
    Four weeks ago we were at a golden jubilee party of our friends. They asked us how Pipke was doing, and of course we had to tell what had happened. The people (approx. 50) who were also present, asked us a thousand questions, and they said: “you must write a book about her”. They said they would buy it, but I rather like to write it in my blog. They don't even know that I blog!:)