Wheeljack Hudziak: 2008- December 19, 2010
Wheeljack was a hamster beloved by many during her short sojourn in this world; a faithful companion and guardian*, resolutely standing by her master and keeping a watchful eye upon his domain and loved ones.** Wheeljack entered my life around Christmas of 2008, a wee little nugget with her sister Ivan II (soon to be renamed Ivana, who tragically perished in the spring of 2009***) and took up residence in my humble apartment by the Courthouse. I named her after my favorite Autobot from the original Transformers cartoon (he developed the Dinobots- he was tight!). She felt at home with my simplistic furnishings and delighted in rolling around our home in her green, translucent ball, and endlessly spinning her wheel in her cage (which was actually an old fishtank someone at work had given me, but hey! It worked!). She enjoyed going through chew toys like a wood chipper, burrowing, scurrying around her habitat, watching seasons of The Office and Battlestar Galactica with me, and listening to Mahler, Strauss, and the earlier work of Miles Davis (before he began experimenting with jazz-rock fusion).****
The summer of 2009 witnessed Wheeljack taking up the mantle of Home Defender as Kristin and I went to Camp Chetek the first time, and thanklessly she persevered in that duty, going long stretches without human companionship until our return in August. Only two months later and Kristin and I were married and Wheeljack fond herself the patroness of our newfound matrimonial bliss. Ah, the many nights of not being able to sleep as she would spin her wheel without end, invigorated and thrilled to run at a clip that would probably cause my lungs to disintegrate- she always was a night owl. She protected our home once more in the summer of 2010 as we returned to Camp Chetek as lead counselors, but we returned home more frequently this time and kept her company on far more occasions than previously; sweet reunions were had with her each time we had to travel back to Janesville, and she threw a rollicking welcome home shindig when we ultimately came back home for good.
Although I had noticed of late how her pelt grew to a more noticeably hoary hue, I banished all thoughts of her growing old and of the inevitability that one day Wheeljack would shuffle off her mortal coil and depart from us. Yesterday before heading off for church, I checked up on her and saw that she had a halting gait and uneasiness to her step. I was of course concerned, but was already running late, so we had to take off, sad to see the effects of aging becoming manifest. Later last night upon our return, I went to investigate and see how she was doing, and found her- silent, upon her side. Her eyes were closed, mouth frozen mid-chew; I think her last memory would have been of enjoying a fruit-flavored wood block before giving up the ghost. I believe that it was a peaceful passing for an honored member of our family.
I guess I had forgotten exactly what the average lifespan of a hamster is, so I admit to daydreams of bequeathing Mrs. Hudziak to our kids; turns out they usually only live somewhere around two years or so, so I can say with confidence that she had a good run. I can also say with assurance that Mrs. Hudziak was loved, and loved being a part of the Olson home. Wheeljack Hudziak saw me through two apartments, a host of personal and spiritual changes, two summers at camp, one year of marriage, and countless nights otherwise spent alone working on epic, future history science fiction sagas.***** God rest ye, Wheeljack- you will be missed!
*Hey, you know what skeptics? My apartment hasn’t been broken into once since her arrival upon the scene, so I’d have to say she did a pretty good job for two years straight!
**…and the other eye upon her spinning wheel.
***And even more tragically ended up slightly cannibalized… that was a weird day for sure.
****She also really dug Bolt Thrower- I never could explain that one.
*****They were in fact co-authored works, so if and when they’re ever published, they will have her name on the covers too. Mrs. Hudziak had brilliant ideas and helped developed a coherent sociological framework to the stories.