Life and death is a daily thing when you grow up on a farm. I watched eggs hatch, calves being born and I helped with all of it, from an early age on. I saw the butcher coming by, and even though I didn’t watch the actual “act” I knew what he was there for.
Later on I helped when the meat got packed and I helped cleaning up the mess. Death was normal, there was nothing weird about it, it was part of our survival.
One day when we visited a market in Italy I fell in love with baby rabbits. I knew we had an old cage in the barn and I begged and begged and succeeded, a few baby rabbits came home with us. They were just too cute, I was excited and helped setting up the rabbit stall. I spend the rest of the day with the rabbits and couldn’t stop talking about it later on that night, when we all sat around the dinner table.
I had named them “Pimpel” and “Hasi” -typical Austrian rabbit names – and my Grandmother didn’t like that at all.
“We don’t name the farm animals” she said and shook her head.
“That’s not true” I said “The dogs have names, the cats have names, some of the cows have names, we have many animals with names.”
“Only the animals we keep have names, the others don’t.”
It darned on me what she meant, the other’s where the animals we ate or sold.
“But those are rabbits, we don’t eat rabbits” I said and there was no reply.
Right after I said it I knew I was wrong. I had eaten rabbit before in one of my Grandma’s famous spaghetti dishes myself; I although remembered how much I have liked it.
“Hasi and Pimple can’t be eaten, they are my friends” I cried and cried, nothing could calm me down. I stormed out of the house and run to the barn to be with my new friends. I was holding the rabbits and talked to them, promised them I would protect them and I would make sure they would not end up on our dinner plates.
The subject never came up again, but we had the rabbits for years. They were under my protection and lived a long and happy life, had many babies that were given away (I think).
I had no illusions about immortality. Death is a part of life and it will get us sooner or later. One can only hope not to end up in a pot. 🙂
At what age did you realize you were not immortal? How did you react to that discovery?