For as long as I can remember, my brother has been fascinated with reptiles. At any given moment, a new snake would pop up in the tank in the corner of his bedroom.
I would always follow him into his room and watch intently as he opened the brown paper bag and reached in with his right hand to grab the plastic bag of goldfish. I would ease up to the glass tank and watch with excitement as the garter snakes slithered over to their make-shift pond to satiate their appetite.
When a new snake accompanied my brother home from camp, I was unaware that change was coming. I followed my brother into his room and watched as he opened the paper bag. This time, he didn't pull out the bag of fish. I was hysterical with fear as I watched the baby mice, pink in color, whose eyes were not even open to see the fate that awaited them.
I ran from the room, crying out for my father, screaming, "It's not fair! They are only babies!"
My father ran up the stairs to find me out of breath with tears streaming down my face. He sat down in the middle of the hallway, Indian style, and pulled me into the refuge of his lap. And for the next thirty minutes, we were the only two people who existed in my world...my father and I, along with all of the animals who encompassed a full discussion about the "circle of life."
My father found a way to expand the idealism of a five year-old to a world that included the harsh reality of gazelles and lions with a gentleness that can only be found between a father and his little girl.