Growing Up With Pets
Dad never picked me up from the junior school curling practise. When he came that day I could sense that something was wrong. There was something in is voice, a kind of hesitation when I asked why he had come when the bus could bring me home. He knew what I was about to experience would shock me, be my first experience with death. My cat Smokey had been killed by a car. She had given birth to seven kittens on my bed three weeks before. My mom had made a bed for her in a box near the back door but Smokey kept returning to my bed. I was a part of the bloody birthing on my white sheets. Dad knew that I dearly loved Smokey. He started talking about how we would need to feed the kittens now. He drove to where she had been killed. Mom had left Smokey near our rural mailbox, had covered her with a white cloth. I broke into tears. Dad hugged me and Mom said that Smokey was gone but her kittens needed our help. I cried a lot that night after the family burial of Smokey but the days that followed saw me engaged in keeping the kittens fed and healthy. We kept two, and adopted out five. Torty and Morty would accompany me to graduation, even to new challenges, new loves, new maturations. That episode was a stage in my growing up that was so valuable that I know every child should have a pet. About love, death, responsibility and the ethic of helpful caring I learned at the side of my dear Dad and Mom.