Fearless, courageous, and kind are a few more adjectives I would use to describe him….in this little story Chris was still very young, but his fearlessness was apparent from a very young age. As I have already written, Chris was the youngest of our family of nine and we lived in rural Newfoundland at that time. Life was good. Our parents kept a cow for milk and chickens for eggs. We also had a dog and cats. Our house was on a hill overlooking the bay. It was beautiful there. Life was particularly joyful in the spring when baby animals were born as well as fluffy little chicks.
It is the memory of those chicks that reminds me of my little brother’s fearlessness. We three youngest ones were out in the yard when a mother hen happened by with her brood. Now a baby chick is cuteness itself and the desire to hold one overtook us all. However, there is nothing fiercer than a mother hen protecting her brood and having a large chicken running at you with wings fully extended can be pretty daunting for a young child. My sister and I backed off. Chris did not. He was so determined to catch one of those baby chicks that the chase was on for hours with my sister and I yelling encouragement as well as words of caution. Well, he never did catch one and eventually had to admit defeat – to his great chagrin and disgust!
Another big challenge for Chris was feeding the family dog, a German Shepherd named “Smokey”. She was fully grown – Chris was not! He would have been perhaps 3 or 4 at the time and every time he would try to bring her a dish of food she would accidently knock him over, which frustrated him to no end. The dog was very gentle, but like any dog would become excited when she smelled food. Finally Mom thought of a solution. She gave Chris a tree branch and told him to make Smokey lay down so he could put her dish in its place without suffering the indignity of being bowled over. The tree branch was bigger than he was…he was pretty little. I still remember the expression of joy on his face the first time he put Mom’s plan into action. Holding the branch in one hand and the dish in the other he sternly ordered, “Smokey! Down!” and the dog laid down. Eventually she would automatically sink to the ground and simply gaze at Chris with intent interest as he brought her food to her – no tree branch required.
Whether it was newly born chicks, a large dog, cats, kittens, a cow, or a calf Chris was so gentle and kind to all animals. They say a person’s character is formed by the age of seven…. throughout his life Chris kept these attributes of courage and kindness; fearlessness and gentleness.
As I have written previously Chris died in an automobile accident when his vehicle was hit by an impaired driver on Nov. 19, 2016.