Turtle Love

How this special turtle taught her a life lesson.


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When my daughter Julia was six, she became fixated on turtles. It may have been because we owned the entire Franklin the Turtle oeuvre, but she talked incessantly about having one of her own. 

I suggested a tortoise might be better since they don’t have to live in huge pools of water, but she had her heart set on the swimming kind. (My interest in tortoises soon dimmed when I found out that 125 was not only what they cost but how long they live!) 

In the end, the $15 common Red Ear Slider was a bargain, so why not get two? “Lucy” grew up to be the size of a salad plate and “Fred” became her butter-dish mate.

Years have passed and between homework and Facebook, turtles no longer hold any fascination for Julia. Yet the opposite seems to have happened to me.

Fred and Lucy survived a move from Iowa to New York, sloshing around in a bucket in the back seat of a car. They lived in bigger and bigger “homes”—moving up from 10 gallons to 60, complete with their own personal sun (lamp) and chaise lounges (rocks) to lamp-bathe.  

Lucy and Fred regularly perform their “Houdini” act so that it seems second nature for me to crawl under the desk or behind the sofa to find them.

A week ago I went to turn off the “sun” for the night. Lucy was lying on her favorite rock and Fred was “hiding” in his little cave under the water. But Fred didn’t move when I nudged him. I quickly realized that he had passed away. As silly as it sounds, I stood there and I cried. And I said a prayer.

Fred was a good turtle and he did his job well. He brought pleasure to a little girl. He was a good partner to Lucy. And he taught a grown-up woman that just being who and what he was—a common Red Eared Slider—was way more than enough. 

Linda Cunningham
Editor-in-Chief
GuidepostsBooks

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