Tuesday, April 3, 2012

C is for Calf (the baby cow kind)

We've already established that I was a girl in love with animals, so it won't surprise you that in the early 80s when my dad took me to the lab at the University of Utah to visit the baby cows that his artificial hearts were first implanted in, I was ecstatic.

In my memory the place is zoo-like and friendly. I overlooked the urine and manure on the floor, the loud hissing and clicking of the machines. I only remember the calves, with their wobbly legs and knobby knees, their large square heads jutting out between the bars of their cages and the dark globes of their eyes.

There’s a picture of me holding a handful of hay out to one of them. I’m not very old in the photograph, maybe four or five and I stand a few feet from the brown and white calf, clutching the hay with two tiny hands, hoping with all my might that my dad will let me take it home to keep.

 I didn’t understand that this calf wouldn’t live much longer, that his life was expendable. After proving that he could survive, he simply wouldn’t be needed any longer. “Sacrifice” was the word my dad used, describing it. It wasn't until much later I started to wonder if I had been expendable too. What need had I filled in him that simply wasn't required anymore?


  1. Oh Kate...with you it was your dad and with me it was my mom. She had munchausen by proxy, which means she made me ill to get attention for herself. Yes, she was mentally ill, but when I remember my trips to the hospital thoughout my childhood and the things she gave me to drink that caused my heart to go erratic, and caused organ damage that ruined my adult life......parental hurts are the ones that last a lifetime. For me, it's physical hurt and mental hurt. I understand.

    1. Oh, please tell me you've written about this? I want to read it. Right now!!!! Thanks for sharing this with me.

  2. That's the end? You've got me wanting to read further. No fair!
    I used to be fascinated by cows and whenever I'd see them by the side of the road, I'd pull over and walk towards the fence, but they'd usually wander off. Last year I got to feed some cows and I was thrilled.

  3. Deep thoughts...very interesting post.

  4. You describe things in such detail that it is easy to picture. Awesome that you love animals. Me too.

  5. I'm also left wanting more. I love the way you wrote this and the comparisons you drew between life experiences separated by years.