If you knew my brother Jonathan, you knew that he was a lover of all animals and creatures. If he found an injured animal he would try, usually unsuccessfully, to sneak it passed our parents so he could heal what ever ailment or injury they had and then let them free again. Caterpillars were picked off tomatoes and vegetables growing in the back yard garden, found homes in jars on the windowsill. When they hatched into butterflies, they were once again set free to fly around the garden in hopes they would lay eggs and we would have more the following summer. Injured birds where put into boxes and spoon fed in the hopes the wing or leg would magically heal on its own. Mice left at the door barely breathing, as a gift from our cats, were put into shoe boxes which usually disappeared by the next morning.
Over the years we had countless animals and pets come in and out of the house. Cats, dogs, fish, birds, mice, hamsters, snakes, iguanas and others that I can’t even remember. Over time our parents got used to the fact that they may, at any time, find a new “pet” living somewhere in the house. They drew the line when it came to having spiders. Spiders were a hard no, but that didn’t stop Jonathan from wanting to take care of them or trying to keep one as his newest “friend”.
For countless summers, my family spent a few weeks in a beautiful cabin, at a place called Silver Lake. Silver Lake is located in the Adirondack Mountains of New York, close to Lake Placid. Being in the mountains and surrounded by trees and water, it was an animal lovers paradise which meant it was perfect for Jonathan and his spider quest. One summer, our friend Dennis came with us on our trip to the Lake. He and Jonathan were very close and spent the entire vacation together hiking, fishing and exploring the beautiful nature around them. They had an amazing time together, until it was time to leave.
As we were cleaning up the cabin and packing up the suburban, Jonathan found his perfect spider. To everyone else it was just a regular Daddy Longlegs spider, but to Jonathan, it was his new friend. As he grabbed bags to bring out to the car, the spider would crawl up his arm. It hung out on his shoulder while he grabbed fishing rods and tackle boxes off the dock. I am pretty sure I even remember him naming it and talking to it like it understood what he was saying. He insisted that he was bringing it home, which was an eight hour car ride, and keeping it as his newest pet. For one or two hours, that spider was his perfect pet.
When all the bags were packed and ready to be put in the car, Jonathan gently placed his spider on the back bumper so it wouldn’t get hurt or lost. Dennis, who was not a big fan of spiders, came over to help pack all the bags for the long ride home. When he saw Jonathan’s beloved Daddy Longlegs, he did what most people seeing a spider would do. He killed it.
Jonathan was devestated. How could his best friend kill his spider. He loved that spider. That spider meant everything to him. He was never going to find another spider as perfect as that one. How dare Dennis be so mean. He promised he was never talking too Dennis, ever again. He held firm to not speaking to him for the entire eight hours home. Once home, it was a pretty quick recovery. Jonathan found a new spider friend and the two of them were once again the best of friends.
To this day, we don’t know if Dennis killed the beloved spider knowing that Jonathan was hoping to bring it home, or if it was just a knee jerk reaction that most would have when seeing a spider crawling so close. Either way, it is one of those stories and memories that make us laugh every time it is told and every time one of my kids tries to keep an animal that should stay outside.