Read to Your Child
A recent poll claimed that, on the average, parents only spend 9 minutes per day with their child. At first I questioned that percent, but after I figured in the time kids spend watching TV, playing video games, on the phone, twittering, on the Internet, playing sports, etc. that percent may be accurate. The percent does not include time while driving a child to soccer practice or to the mall. Often both parents work and just don’t have the time to sit down and talk, or read with their child. Reading to a child and having the child read back is the best way to spend what little time a parent has with his/her child.
From time to time I plan to put children’s stories into this blog. Read them to your kids or just put a copy on your child’s bed. Roy, the Animal Boy Adventures are almost believable; in fact they are mostly true. They are based upon the life of my father and me. Most of the information is accurate and educational about animals and nature. The plot line occasionally drifts into fantasy.
Roy The Animal Boy (The Beginning)
A long time ago, before homes had TVs, my son Roy Dimwitty was born in New York City. His mother, Maggie, and I had recently emigrated from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, a small town on the prairies of Western Canada. You are absolutely right if you think Moose Jaw is a strange name for a town, and Dimwitty is an unusual name for anyone. You might even think Roy’s wits were dim but, as you will see, just the opposite was true. In fact, Roy was a smart little boy who had a very special relationship with animals. I’d like to tell you a few stories about Roy’s unusual and exciting adventures with animals. As Roy grew up, his adventures became even more exciting and… almost unbelievable.
Roy loved animals as long as he could remember. It is true that most kids love animals, but Roy’s love was exceptional. When he was little, he talked to his teddy bear, he talked to the animal pictures on the wall of his room, and he even talked to cats, dogs, birds, and goldfish. He day dreamed about animals and could imitate their meows, barks, wines, growls, purrs, neighs, moos, bleats, and oinks. Roy’s birdcalls were so realistic they got him in trouble with his mother. I laughed and enjoyed Roy’s imitations, but Maggie, was often embarrassed by the sounds coming from Roy’s room when she had company.
As Roy grew up, he came to realize he was different from his playmates. He often thought back to when he was younger for an explanation. He wondered why animals were so attracted to him, and why he seemed to understand them better than anyone else.
It was almost as if Roy could read the minds of animals. When he told his friends, they laughed and thought he was being silly. They playfully gave him the nickname, “Roy the Animal Boy.” Eventually, Roy became more private about his insights with animals except, of course, with his family.
Roy had many unusual animal encounters as he grew up. At first, we thought they were weird, but Roy did not think so. He thought they were fun and he cherished every memory. The baby carriage in the park incident was a good example. Of course, his memories of that event were hazy because it happened so long ago, but what he did remember made sense to him after his mother told him her version of the story years later. The way she described it, however, was not exactly the way Roy remembered it.
Roy’s memories of that adventure were pleasurable, like being at his birthday party with all his friends having a good time, like everyone crowding around wanting to play with him. What he could remember was a jostling of cute little bobbing heads, something soft tickling his cheeks, tiny pink-rimed black eyes, and a strange noise that could be best described as sounding like… a flock of cooing pigeons.
Let me start from the beginning and tell you this fascinating little story.
When Roy was two years old his mother packed him snugly into a baby carriage and wheeled him down the long narrow hallway, from our fifth floor apartment, into a cramped elevator, and then outside into a nearby playground.
It was a beautiful September morning, with clear blue skies and a gentle breeze that brought the first colorful autumn leaves to the ground. Roy’s mother pushed the carriage over to where several neighbors had gathered on park benches while their kids played nearby. The mothers always had new gossip and happily related stories about their growing children and hardworking husbands. They seldom had interest in much else outside their little world of family and home. Their husbands left for work each morning and met each other at the bus stop or on the subway platform. Sometimes we talked to but mostly we read the daily newspaper until we got to work. At the end of the day we returned to our little apartments and listened to our wives tell about their day and the latest gossip.
One evening, Maggie had an unusual story to tell me when I came home. I usually listened dutifully, but that evening I listened intently.
Maggie seemed agitated, “The morning in the playground, started out like any other day. We were sitting on the park benches chatting with each other as usual while the children played nearby. Roy was sleeping peacefully in his carriage. Honestly, I had no idea that this strange thing was going to happen to him.”
It was all as she said. Pigeons waddled around the playground, as usual, scavenging for tiny morsels of food, and squirrels chased each other nearby. It was a typical day for Maggie and little Roy, but shortly after Maggie parked Roy’s carriage and joined her neighbor friends, the day would soon change. It was the beginning of a series of strange adventures Roy was to have with his animal friends.
The mothers were engrossed in their gossip when one of them happened to look over to Roy’s carriage behind Maggie. Her eyes widened in disbelief and her mouth dropped open in the middle of a sentence. It was the first time all morning that she had stopped talking. At first, the other mothers thought she might be ill, but as they turned to see what she was staring at, they too gasped in alarm.
“I let out a scream and rushed toward Roy’s carriage and shooed them away.” Maggie exclaimed as she squeezed my arm. “We could hardly see the carriage for the pigeons, hundreds of them! It was totally covered! They were inside, on its hood and sides, and all around it. The squirrels were there too, pushing the pigeons aside trying to get into the carriage. It was terrible Ambrose, I really was frightened for Roy!”
I listened thoughtfully, as my distraught wife continued her story. “I rushed over to the carriage, sent the pigeons flying and the squirrels scampering in a thunder of wings and a cloud of feathers. Little Roy was fine. He just lay in the carriage laughing. He had a few feathers on his blanket and a little pigeon poop on his cheek, but other than that, he was fine. In fact, would you believe it, he was laughing?”
Maggie was upset and I remember nodding my head sympathetically, without comment.
Maggie continued, “I thought some food had fallen into the carriage and attracted the pigeons and squirrels but I couldn’t find any. I have no idea why they mobbed little Roy. They could have smothered him.”
I tried to calm Maggie down. “No harm was done Dear. I don’t have any idea why Roy was of such interest to them. Sounds like the squirrels and pigeons were… just curious. No big deal. Nothing to worry about Dear. He’s OK.”
That unusual incident was the first of many. In the future, Roy’s interactions with animals puzzled us even more. The mystery of their attraction to him and his ability to communicate with them increased.
About the time of the pigeon incident, Maggie became pregnant with Millicent. Roy and sister Millie would soon become inseparable and were destined to have many adventures together. Roy fondly called his little sister “Silly Millie” because she always seemed to get them both in all kinds of trouble.
I eventually moved the family out of the big city into another apartment on its outskirts, in a place called the Bronx. Fortunately, for Roy and all of us, the neighborhood was still undeveloped and many natural wild places existed within a short walking distance of our apartment. On weekends, I took Roy for frequent walks and taught him the ways of nature and how to identify birds and other animals. When Roy was old enough to go off on his own, he usually headed for the woods and open wild spaces. When Millie was old enough to tag along, the three of us spent the happiest days of our lives together exploring the natural world. I had grown up on a farm in Western Canada and knew a fair amount about nature. I taught my children everything I knew.
I often took Roy and Millie to the famous Bronx Zoo and New York’s Museum of Natural History. Roy came to know every animal and every exhibit in both the zoo and the museum. He spent much of his time at the local library and read all the books he could find about nature and animals. By age ten, Roy was an expert on animal behavior.
School was another matter, for Roy’s mind was occupied with more interesting things than classroom studies. His teachers complained that he was a daydreamer, and they were right. His body may have been sitting in class but his mind was wandering far away outside exploring nature.
I knew there was something special about my son long before he figured it out. The pigeon episode in the playground was the first event that got me thinking but the next event was even more intriguing.
One evening when I came home from work, Maggie met me at the door with a worried look on her face and told him about a terrible experience that happened to her and Roy.
Her mother, who was now living with us, was at her side.
Maggie told her story. “Grandma was watching Millie while I took Roy with me shopping. I was on the way home and had three bags of groceries in the carriage with Roy. I stopped to chat with a neighbor, for just for a few minutes, and then came straight home. When I unloaded the groceries from the carriage, Roy was missing. I ran back in a panic to where I had stopped to chat and finally found Roy. Ambrose, you would not believe where he was.”
I shrugged my shoulders and encouraged her to go on with the story.
Maggie continued, “The local fruit and vegetable vendor, with his horse drawn wagon, was hawking his wares at the curbside, and Roy was there in the street, would you believe it, he was in the street between the huge front hooves of the horse.”
Apparently, it was all true. While his mom was occupied chatting with neighbors, little Roy, fascinated by the sight and smell of the big horse, must have climbed out of the carriage for a closer look. The gentle old horse probably was interested in the little creature between its legs because it was gently nuzzling Roy with its soft lips.
“The horse had pulled off Roy’s hat and was about to eat his hair.” shrieked Maggie.
“Thank the Lord she arrived when she did to rescue him.” chimed in Grandma. “He could have been crushed! It was a miracle that Roy was not hurt.”
I had a different interpretation of what happened but did not discuss it with Maggie and Grandma.
That night, after tucking Roy and Baby Millie into bed, I lingered in the darkened room and pondered the day’s events and several other unusual events that had happened since the pigeon incident. I suspected that all the events were somehow related. For example, every so often when the apartment door was left open, the neighbor’s cat would sneak into their apartment undetected. Invariably it found its way to Roy and snuggled up next to him in his crib. It was difficult to keep the kitty away from Roy. And, of course, Roy loved the soft, purring company.
There were also, all the dog incidents. Whenever we took Roy and Millie out in their strollers, every dog we met reacted strangely. The small dogs barked, wagged their tails, and tried to jump into the stroller with Roy. The large dogs tried to lick Roy’s face. Roy loved every encounter and laughed loudly with delight. Although Maggie was annoyed every time it happened, I was not. I watched the dogs’ reaction to my son with interest. They seemed to be unusually friendly and specially interested in Roy, more so than Millie. I wondered why.
I wondered if the animals and Roy were communicating in some mysterious way, perhaps by “body language.” I knew that humans could pick up cues about animals, like the wagging tail of a dog, the twitching tail of a cat, and the flattened ears of a horse. I also knew that animals could pick up body language cues about humans, like a threatening stance, a glaring look, or fast jerky movements. Perhaps the animals’ keen sense of smell, hearing, and sight enabled them to detect something unusual and non-threatening about Roy. What other explanation could there be for these strange events? I had a theory and was determined to gather enough evidence to prove it.
One of the strangest events occurred on a two-week summer vacation in the sleepy little farm town in Massachusetts. I had a difficult time convincing Maggie and Grandma that they would enjoy this vacation, but somehow I succeeded.
We rented a little three-room cabin next to a cow pasture, down the road from a small dairy farm. The cabin had no electricity and no running water, except for a hand pump outside the back door. About thirty feet away stood a little outhouse with a half moon on its door and a full contingent of resident flies and spiders. The kitchen had a cast iron wood stove and an icebox that always dripped water from the melting block of ice in its bottom.
The kids were in heaven, and Maggie and her mother, to their credit, tolerated the time spent there well. It seemed they even enjoyed themselves. Millie was now four years old and Roy was six, so the kids and I often took walks together in the woods and across the cow pastures. It was then that the next unusual event happened.
The kids were playing behind the cabin while I was cleaning ashes out of the stove. Maggie and I assumed that the kids would stick together as usual, but Millie had other ideas. She wandered away from her brother over to the cow pasture and crawled through the space between the gate and fence.
Without anyone noticing, she walked toward several cows peacefully gathered under a tree chewing their cuds. Roy was so occupied with a nearby woodchuck hole and had not missed his sister. When he happened to look up, she was standing in front of several Holstein cows that were regarding her with mild interest. Roy jumped to his feet and ran to retrieve his little sister. She was his responsibility. As he did, his heart sank because nearby he saw a large, agitated bull.
A farmer had told us Holstein bulls could be mean, so Roy called to his sister, “Millie, run back to the fence right away! There’s a big bull in the pasture.”
Maggie and I heard Roy’s cry and rushed outside to see why he was calling his sister so loudly. We immediately saw the big black and white bull coming right for Millie at a slow, deliberate trot with its tail held high. It was honing in on the little two-legged creature next to its cows.
Before I could do anything, Roy had reached his sister’s side and stepped between her and the approaching bull. Roy held out his hand and said something to the advancing bull that we could not hear. Astonishingly, the bull slowed down and then stopped in its tracks, about six feet from the kids, and then slowly walked up to Roy for a closer look.
Maggie and I arrived at the pasture gate in time to see Roy reach out and pat the bull’s massive forehead. Millie, not realizing the danger she had been in, walked by her brother and reached her little hand out to pat the bull’s huge nose. The bull’s wet tongue slurped across Roy’s cheek and then sniffed his face and neck. I wondered if Roy’s salty perspiration tasted good to the bull, or was it just curious, or just trying to be friendly. Millie soon found the shinny brass bell around its neck and happily began clanking it.
In the meantime, on the other side of the pasture gate next to me, Maggie was having a fit and it was all I could do to restrain her. She screamed to the kids, “Roy, Millie, run back to the gate this minute!” and then she pleaded with me to rescue them.
I knew they did not need rescuing. I remember smiling and shaking my head in disbelief as the kids said goodbye to the bull, and Silly Millie planted a kiss on the bull’s cold, wet nose. The kids turned and walked back to the gate with the bull and several cows following slowly behind. Needless to say we were amazed at the “pasture parade,” as Millie later called it, and wondered how such a thing could happen.
Maggie was very angry and intended to spank the kid’s little behinds for scaring her so much, but I stopped her. As we walked back to the cabin the bull and cows bellowed, and Maggie scolded the children.
Now, I was sure that my son could communicate with animals in some mysterious way. I thought this was a most wonderful gift and the future might hold some fantastic surprises for the family. I could not have been more right.
Later that very week, as I stood at the kitchen sink washing dishes in a pail of water, I happened to look up out the window and saw Roy standing perfectly still beside the cabin. Roy was looking intently at something on the far edge of the field close to the woods. I finally located what had caught my son’s attention. About thirty yards away, sitting erect and perfectly still, was a big fat woodchuck, no doubt watching Roy. Roy seemed to be talking as he walked slowly toward it, but I could not hear the words. Every few yards Roy stopped and stood perfectly still. He did this several times until he was within an arms length of the little, brown statue.
Strangely, the woodchuck had not moved. I knew that what Roy was doing was almost impossible. Nobody can approach an alert, healthy wild woodchuck without it disappearing down into its hole. Yet, there before my eyes, Roy was doing what could not be done. Roy slowly knelt down next to the woodchuck. When he reached over and stroked its head with a finger, the woodchuck dropped down on all fours, and climbed into his lap.
I was amazed. I dropped a dish into the sink in my hurry to find Maggie. Last night I had shared my theory about Roy with her and now I was trying to convince her that I was right. When we returned to the window, we could hardly believe what we saw.
Millie had joined Roy, but now there were three baby woodchucks climbing into Roy’s lap. Milly grabbed one in her little arms and gave it a hug as if it was a teddy bear. We had just witnessed a unique event in nature, one probably never seen before, by anyone. We looked at each other in amazement and then back at our happy kids and the woodchuck family. We had no explanation for what had happened. I decided to have a serious talk with Roy that evening. I wondered if Roy realized that he had such an extraordinary ability with animals.
After dinner, when the setting sun had turned the western sky and the bellies of several wispy clouds to a red-orange, I made a bonfire. The whole family, including Grandma, roasted marshmallows and enjoyed the growing chorus of evening sounds. Crickets and katydids supplied the background music for chirping and peeping frogs looking for companionship. When it grew dark, we watched sparks from the fire disappear upward into the starlit sky. It was as if each spark was on a journey upward until it became imbedded in the black sky as a twinkling star.
I told my family that a long time ago ancient Indians probably sat around a fire, like we were doing, and enjoyed the peaceful time together. It might have been the same time of year, with the same night sounds of crickets and frogs, and the occasional eerie calls of nighthawks, feeding on invisible flying insects high over their heads in the black sky. I reminded the kids what they had learned at the planetarium when last we visited it. Even though the night sky might have looked similar so many thousands of years ago, it and the whole universe had gradually changed since then. “Nothing ever stands still in the universe.” I told them. “Everything is changing and in motion, although sometimes, a peaceful night around a campfire slowed down the world a wee bit.”
The kids looked up at the sky and marveled at its infinite vastness. It was a beautiful time together for the Dimwitty family and one that Roy said he always remembered.
Roy broke the silence, “Can you imagine ancient Indians roasting marshmallows around their fire?” Every one laughed at the thought. Eventually, after Mom, Millie, and Grandma went back to the cabin, Roy and I lingered by the fire to make sure it was out. We sat by the glowing embers in silence, enjoying the night. I took that opportunity to ask Roy about the woodchucks.
“What you did today was really neat son. Millie loved playing with the baby woodchucks.” Roy nodded his head in agreement without taking his eyes off the dying fire.
“What were you thinking about when you walked over to the woodchuck son, and why do you think the woodchuck let you walk up to it without scampering down its hole?’
Roy turned to me and shook his head. “You know dad, I don’t have a clue why it let me walk up to it and I’m not sure why the bull in the pasture stopped and was so friendly.” He paused for a while and added. “Maybe they just sensed, somehow, that I meant them no harm and that I wanted to be friends with them.”
I remember nodding my head. “Roy, do you remember all the other stories that your mother and I told you about, about your unusual encounters with animals?”
“Sure Dad, I remember all of them …and some I haven’t told you about, but they’re all a mystery to me.”
I slipped an arm around my son and hugged him. “ OK Roy, its time to hit the sack. Your mother will be wondering what happened to us.” We smothered the fire and walked hand in hand back toward the flickering light of the kerosene lantern hanging in the kitchen.
Later that evening, after everyone was asleep, I quietly slipped back outside and walked over to the pasture gate where we had witnessed the encounter between Roy and the bull. It was a perfect night with a clear, star-studded sky. Occasionally I noticed a fleeting dark silhouette of a hunting bat against the full August moon. Something Roy said had stuck with me. The childish wisdom in my son’s words was truly profound. How much better the world would be if humans meant each other no harm and only wanted to be friends? The idea was so simple. I believed that all humanity had the power to use love in a positive way to improve the world, but they too seldom did. What a tragedy, I thought as I made his way back to the little cabin.
Many unusual things happened to Roy in the next few years. All of them are stories worth telling, but when Roy was nine years old, an adventure at the Bronx Zoo really overshadowed the rest.
One Saturday, while Maggie, Grandma, and Millie were on a shopping trip, I took Roy to the zoo. We walked fast so we could see as much of the zoo as possible in one afternoon. When we entered the Primate House, we went directly to the cage containing four baby chimps. A narrow passageway for keepers ran between the cage front and a glass barrier, behind which Roy and I watched.
Knowing how much Roy loved those little chimps, I knocked on the glass, when a keeper walked by. The keeper came out and chatted with me while Roy watched the chimps play. To Roy’s delight, the keeper invited us back behind the glass and led us to the front of the baby chimp’s cage. The babies had been chasing each other, tumbling, and wrestling, until Roy greeted them in his own special way.
At first Roy imitated their cries and grunts, and then spoke to them, “Hello fellows.” he said, “I’d love to play with you. Looks like your having fun.”
To my surprise, the babies stopped wrestling in the back of the cage, and watched Roy intently. Then, they and made a beeline to Roy. They reached their little arms out through the narrow bars of the cage toward Roy and begged for attention. Roy looked at the keeper for permission to touch them and, when he got approval, he and the chimps had a grand time. Roy reached his hands through the bars and played with the babies for a long while, as the keeper and I talked.
I shared my theory about Roy with the keeper, not expecting the keeper to believe me. Actually, the keeper had noticed that the baby chimps were not acting the way they normally would with a stranger. He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. On a hunch, he suggested that they pay a visit to Jimmy.
“Com’on with me. I want to introduce you both to Jimmy.” Roy reluctantly left the babies and followed the keeper and me down the passageway to Jimmy’s cage.
Jimmy was a “super chimp” if there ever was one. He was a mature male in the prime of his life and weighed in at 209 pounds, a world record we were told!
The keeper explained, “Jimmy is a problem animal and a very dangerous one who, in a fight, could probably beat up ten strong men at once. Last year while an inexperienced keeper was pushing fruits and vegetables through the bars of his cage, Jimmy sat quietly until the keeper became careless. As fast as lightning, Jimmy reached a few fingers of his massive hand between the bars, grabbed the pail of fruit, and whacked the keeper in the head with it. We found the keeper unconscious and bleeding while Jimmy raced around his cage in celebration.”
The keeper continued, “Jimmy is an animal athlete if there ever was one. He can bounce around his cage, off the walls and ceiling hardly touching the floor and all the while screaming his brains out. And then, when you would least suspected it, he hits the heavy glass back panel of his cage with both feet and creates a concussion like a cannon going off. The booms shake the whole building and makes visitors jump. Some day he might break the glass.”
As we approached, Jimmy, true to form, went wild screaming, and threatening the two strangers with huge bared teeth. At first Roy and I were startled, but Roy began talking to the wild chimp, and gradually, Jimmy seemed to calm down a bit.
Jimmy appeared to be listening to Roy’s calm voice. “Hi Jimmy. Why are you so excited? We want to be your friends.”
In the middle of his tantrum, Jimmy abruptly sat down and looked at them from the back of his cage. He stood up on all fours and slowly swayed back and forth, his eyes on Roy. The chimp pursed his lips and grunted softly, then showed his huge teeth, but it did not seem like a threat to me. It looked more like…well, a smile. And, that was exactly what it must have been, because Jimmy ambled right over to Roy and sat down in front of him.
Jimmy stuck a large finger between the cage bars. The keeper was amazed and explained to us that an extended finger was a chimpanzee sign of friendship, a way of saying hello. he is thinking I trust you will not bite off my finger and I will not bite off yours. Nevertheless he cautioned Roy to stand well back away from the cage and Jimmy. “Jimmy cannot be trusted.” He said.
Jimmy watched Roy and listened intently while Roy talked to him, “Jimmy, I want to be your friend. I’d love to come in your cage and play with you.” Their eyes met in some mysterious understanding of friendship.
The keeper gave Roy some grapes from a food pail he was carrying, and showed him how to toss them into Jimmy’s hand without getting too close. Jimmy took the grapes and began making strange murmuring sounds. Ambrose was amazed at the chimp’s facial expressions and the sounds he made. Jimmy was more interested in Roy than he was in the grapes. The keeper let Roy and Jimmy talk for a while, and then escorted us back to the viewing area. As we left, Jimmy made a series of soft grunts as if to say “Please don’t go.” Roy turned and promised he would come back to visit. The keeper nodded his head and told Roy that he was welcome, anytime.
Outside the Primate House, I bought two popsicles from a nearby vendor and sat on a bench with Roy. We ate in silence until Roy said, “Dad, did you know that Jimmy is not happy living at the zoo? He hates the bars, the tile walls, the cement floor, the boring food, and most of all, he hates being alone. I think he needs some company, maybe a girl friend.”
I could think of nothing else to say except? “I think you’re probably right son. I wish that there was something we could do about it, but there isn’t.” Roy’s lips tightened and his brow furrowed, as he thought about the big chimp all alone in his cage.
We sat quietly for a while until I noticed the tear running down Roy’s cheek. Roy dropped his popsicle, leaned into my arms, and sobbed softly. I must admit I shed some tears also. I was so proud of Roy’s compassion for the unfortunate captive chimp. As we walked away from the primate House hand in hand, I happened to look back over shoulder and noticed the keeper in the doorway of the Primate House thoughtfully watching us. It looked like he had just reached up with a finger to wipe a tear from his cheek, but I could not be sure.
Roy kept his promise about coming back to visit with Jimmy. Roy and I visited the zoo at least twice a month for several years until Roy was old enough to go by himself. His visits with Jimmy were wonderful experiences and so unusual that a newspaper sent a reporter and photographer to document the relationship between the ape and a boy. The publicity helped the zoo raise new funds to improve its facilities and make a nice new natural habitat home for a whole troop of chimpanzees.
The zoo also found several suitable mates for Jimmy, and he sired six of the cutest babies Roy ever saw. Roy finally convinced the zoo that it would be safe to let him reach his fingers into the cage and groom the big chimp. Jimmy loved it and groomed Roy through the bars of the cage with his fingers whenever he had the chance. Roy had many happy years visiting with Jimmy.
One day, when Roy came for his visit, he could not find Jimmy in the outside Chimpanzee Habitat area. A sad zookeeper gave Roy the bad news. “We found Jimmy’s lifeless body this morning Roy. He died quietly in his sleep.” Roy and Jimmy’s distraught keepers visited together for a while, and then Roy left the zoo with tears swelling in his eyes.
That evening when I got home from work, Roy greeted me at the door and rushed into my open arms. Between sobs, he gave me the bad news about Jimmy. Tears streamed down the faces of Maggie, Millie, and Grandma while they watched. I took Roy by the hand and went for a brief walk outside before dinner. A neighbor in the hallway heard and saw our distress. I’m sure she had no idea what we were crying about.
Roy sniffled and wiped his eyes while I explained how fortunate he was to have known Jimmy. I remember my exact words, “Your love for the giant chimp made a huge difference in Jimmy’s life, and made his last years very happy ones. You should be very proud of that, like I am proud of you.”
I knelt down in front of Roy and put both hands on his shoulders, “Jimmy’s love for you has made you a better person. Now, you will have so many fond memories of Jimmy for the rest of your life. Those memories will inspire you to help animals when you grow up.” As you might guess, that is exactly what happened as Roy grew older, but those are stories yet to be told.