Wednesday, January 07, 2015

An Elephant Story

Elephants have been in the news lately, and it hasn't been good news. They are in serious decline thanks to insane notions about the powers of their tusks. I hate to even think about what's going on in the semi-wilds of the worlds. Even a headline like "Bone Wine" in China made from the few tigers left in that country, can send me into a spiraling downward sadness. When will it end? Never, I guess. But the headlines reminded my mother of a story from her childhood, and that's the story I want to tell.

Many years ago (I am not allowed to tell you how many!), my mother's father took her and her sister Ellen to the Bronx Zoo. My mother was four years old, her sister was six. They walked around and saw all the animals, but when they got to the part of the zoo where the elephants were, the area had been cordoned off. My mother started to cry because she really wanted to see the elephants. They were her favorite animal. A zookeeper came by and asked my grandfather why my mother was crying. He told the man that she really wanted to see the elephants. So the zookeeper told my mother to stop crying. He promised that he would send her her an elephant in the mail. She was elated. She was going to get an elephant.

For days after she would stand by the apartment window waiting for the mailman to arrive. Her mother asked her, "Beatty, why are you standing there be the window everyday?" She replied, "The man told me he would send me an elephant. I am waiting for it."

Of course the elephant never arrived. But the latest headlines stirred that memory and that passion for elephants. This year for the holidays my wonderful, thoughtful sister bought my mom a little present.

Her elephant finally arrived.

Of course we wonder if this will someday be all that is left of our wild beautiful animals.


  1. Many of us share your sadness Robin. We are now the climax species and we aren't very considerate of others. But we know from what happens to climax species, here today gone tomorrow. Perhaps we'll be able to salvage the best parts of the civilization and over time life will begin a new in a more varied format. I hope so, I've got a soft spot for the best of our qualities

  2. May all our elephants finally arrive. May our wild beautiful animals live and thrive. You've given me much to think about with your story, robin andrea.

  3. humans are entirely selfish and cruel. Except when they're not. It was wonderful of your sister to present your mother with an elephant.

  4. Such a sad story. It was very thoughtful of your sister to do that for your mom.

    I am sad and pissed off about the state of this world we live in. For the sake of a dollar (and related reasons) people are willing to slaughter ANY living thing into extinction. For the same reasons, they are also willing to poison they very planet that keeps us alive.

  5. It is absolutely heart breaking what our species does to others, despite efforts to stop it.
    Your mother got the best kind of elephant, and I'm sure she will cherish it.

  6. def59485-- I've got a soft spot for the best of our species too. Sadly, we all can't agree on what the best really is.

    am-- I tend not to be very hopeful.

    Tara-- There are only 3000 tigers in the wild left on the planet. I'm afraid to read how many elephants are out there.

    Mark-- Thank you for that.

    Pat-- I am seriously sad and pissed off too.

    Momadness-- It is absolutely heartbreaking.

  7. The plight of the elephants is such a tragedy. They are truly magnificent animals who love and care so much for one another. Too bad we can't always say the same for humans.

  8. I am worried about all the animals in Africa, especially elephants. Glad your mom finally got her elephant.

  9. Telling the stories so that those we love will live on. Lovely!

  10. What a sweet sister you have. I feel your pain about the elephant. I read a blog recently about a couple traveling in the orient and they came across a baby elephant for sale in a plaza. Had I been there, that would have broken me. It was hard enough to read about after the fact. I will never understand man's treatment of the animals.

  11. NCmountainwoman-- It's true. Elephants really do make great role models, if only we would really see them.

    kenju-- I'm worried about all the wildlife and hoping for the best.

    MandT-- Yes, we have to tell the stories. It's the old way of the world.

    Arkansas Patti-- That is such a tragic story. It's heartbreaking. I love that my sister remembered the story and did this.

  12. Your sister did an amazing, sweet thing. There's a parallel between your mother as a little girl weeping because she couldn't see the elephants, and how all these decades later, our hearts are broken for the elephants that will no longer be seen because they've been killed for such a stupid reason.
    Remember the beauty of Ashes and Snow. The elephants and humans together in such beauty.

  13. I loved this post. I like the depth of your feelings that you can so easily express and you are a born writer. Elephants are my favorites too. Gosh I remember you were one of my first blogs I ever read so long ago. You inspired me to start blogging. And I love the blog name. Remember on Lost,tv show, they used it!

  14. CCorax-- Yes! I love your perception of the parallel. It's quite sad and haunting. How can humans be so cruel and thoughtless to the wild creatures of the world? I will never understand, and it will always break my heart. I do remember the beauty of Ashes and Snow.

    Nora-- I'm so glad you liked this post. I love your blog and am always glad and inspired by what you see in your world. Have been thinking of you and wishing you all the very best.

  15. Really good story, Robin Andrea. I heard a feature on NPR yesterday about "tiger farms" in China where they raise tigers for their body parts and bones. The animals are kept in completely unnatural conditions and they behave accordingly. The story emphasized that there isn't even a medicinal market for tiger parts any longer among traditional Chinese doctors; this is a manufactured market for bone wine drinkers. And, of course, bone wine vintners don't distinguish between captive tiger parts and wild-caught tiger parts, so this bone wine demand threatens the 3,000 remaining wild tigers, too, that are poached for their bones. Like you and your other readers, I came away so depressed.

  16. Scott-- I am always afraid that people will acquire a taste for the wild, but even the thought of farmed tigers makes a little sick. It's all insanity.

    Bill-- Thank you!