When I went home for my brother’s wedding (which by the way, was AWESOME!!!), my mother told me that our golden turtle had died. It’s not actually golden or a turtle, but it’s what my mom called our tortoise in Chinese — literally translated as “golden turtle”. The Chinese use turtle to depict both actual turtles and tortoises interchangeably.
In China the traditional Chinese culture view tortoises/turtles as sacred and a symbol of longevity (because they can outlive humans by hundreds of years), as well as a symbol of perseverance and endurance. The tortoise/turtle is one of the “four power animals” of China. The Chinese believe that the tortoises represents good fortune (hence the “golden” title of its name). In Chinese decor, the turtle/tortoise is a prominent art design, believed to bring the home and family good health and fortune.
Our golden turtle was brought home by my brother John when I was about 14. It had lived with our family for many years. I asked my mother what happened to our golden turtle (which we have had for over 15 years already), and she said that one of my cousins was working at a pet shop and had brought over a female tortoise as a companion for ours. That tortoise ended up dying in about two weeks, and then a few days later ours died as well! I was so upset when I heard this because that was the only real pet we ever had as a family.