Last week Kysa posted on facebook that Amazon (the place where the online magic happens) was selling Tamagotchi. Oh, the memories! For sixty five dollars and eighty two cents you can be the lucky owner of this blingy purple model. If you are unfamiliar with the Tamagotchi, maybe the following story, originally posted April 25, 2006, will give you a glimpse into living (and dying) with the little guys.
My kids were 9 and 11 and when my father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Inoperable and fairly advanced, the doctors suggested chemo, but still only gave him six months to live. The very talented Doctor of Oncology was big on family involvement and called twice monthly family meetings to discuss my father's condition. He was a proponent of the "no surprises" method of healthcare and I thanked him for it early and often. Mine were the only children in the family and were always encouraged to come. Karl, the oldest, was generally able to stay focused during the meetings, and often interjected questions. Kysa, my beautiful ADD child, could barely sit still. For this reason I allowed her to bring along something to occupy her during the sessions, and her choice was always her Tamagotchi.
For those of you unfamiliar, a Tamagotchi is a virtual pet and they were all the rage during that time. You had to monitor it's every function. If it was hungry it would beep and you would push the little button to feed it. After eating, it pooped. (I'm not making this stuff up.) It could get sick and need injections, it needed play time and nap time and babysitting if you were going to leave it alone. I drew the line on the babysitting part, but somehow we managed to keep it alive. Oh yes, did I mention the dying part? Yeah, the thing could die if you didn't care for it correctly. As I recall, there was a little meter that kept you informed if you were being a lousy Tamagotchi Mom. Brilliant little invention.
True to the prognosis of the doctors, my father's cancer could not be stopped and he passed away almost six months to the day of his diagnosis. His funeral was held on the hottest day of summer. I remember that I wore a navy suit with pantyhose. I must have been nuts. Anyway, the plan was to have the visitation and viewing before the funeral, making for a really long and emotional day for everyone involved, including my kids. Somehow we all managed to sweat (there was air conditioning, but it was no where near enough to deal with the mass of people in such a small space) our way through the visitation and take our seats in the family area for the funeral. As we took our seats I noticed that my daughter had the Tamagotchi in her hand and I whispered to her to put it away until after the service, which she did.
All went well until near the end of the service when Kysa's little white purse began to vibrate. Out of the corner of my eye I could see she and Karl fumbling with the bag to get it open and calm whatever distress the Tamagotchi was in. And then, during my father's funeral, the Tamagotchi died. I kid you not. It vibrated, it beeped, it played the hallelujah chorus at the top volume of it's little Tamagotchi voice and it expired. The service stopped and every eye in the place turned to us. Kysa was madly pushing every button when Karl grabbed it and sat on it. This muted the volume enough so that it was only audible to the those of us close, but I swear it went on playing "king of kings, and lord of lords" until that little Tamagotchi had walked all the way from Northern Illinois to Tamagotchi heaven. I remembering smiling and indicating that everything was fine and the service began again, this time moving along to the final prayer with some haste, just in case the lunatics in the family section did something else inappropriate. I looked at the kids and the kids looked at me and the worst possible thing happened: we started to laugh. That nervous horrible laughter that can't be controlled. We, as silently as possible, shook with laughter until tears ran down our cheeks. I remember thinking that the only person that could have truly appreciated the irony of this situation was the man in the casket. At the end of the service Karl pulled out the Tamagotchi and we all looked disbelievingly at the screen to see a beautiful angel serenely floating right above the words, "to begin again, push here".
So that's the story of the day the Tamagotchi died. Coincidence or Divine humor. You decide.