I remember the day we drove up to Granny’s house — my mother, two sisters, and me. It was September and I was two months shy of my fifth birthday. I remember all of us waiting for Granny to return. She was out shopping for us. She wanted to give us welcome gifts.
Soon enough, Granny pulled up the driveway in her bright red Cadillac convertible. She had long thick grey hair that she braided, coiled atop her head, and fixed with big hair pins. Her arms were full of presents. I received a beautifully garbed doll. The doll had wavy blonde hair, blue eyes, and a very frilly white dress.
Granny ran a big boarding house in Mansfield, Ohio for farm hands that worked at a dairy farm on the other side of the back fence. It was a big house and was divided into two sections. On one side, lived the farm hands and on the other, lived my grandmother.
I was not old enough to go to school like my two older sisters were, so I spent a lot of time playing by myself or helping Granny around the house. She had a rose and rock garden and grew peas and corn. I would sit right next to her on a bench in the backyard. Like Granny, I had an apron and used it properly to shell peas and shuck corn. I also had a red wheelbarrow that I would push around and mimic work, like Granny.
At lunch, I would eat at a long formal table in the dining room with the farm hands. There must have been about ten men. I remember two of their names — Bob and Stan — and I can remember their faces clearly, as well. Granny worked hard. She did all the cooking and cleaning. There was a double ladder that straddled the fence that we shared with the dairy farm. After the men ate and went back to work, I would often climb up the ladder and reach out to pet a certain nice cow that routinely strolled by. I could feel her soft tongue as she licked me.
One lunch, Granny served us a meat, and nonchalantly told me that it was “cow tongue.” It was not my cow’s tongue, however, but I was so upset that anyone could eat any cow’s tongue. And that was when I first understood, subconsciously, that animals are sentient beings and should not ever be eaten.
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