Sebastian and the Bunny
My grandfather lives in a dim memory. He died when I was only five years old. What remains is a fuzzy picture of a tiny man sitting at a square, weathered table just outside the back door of an old farmhouse.
A short, round, silent man with a pipe, Sebastian didn’t enjoy eating at a table full of noisy children and grandchildren, so Anna served him meals under an awning at the back door. He sat with his back to the house surveying his domain, a few acres of grape vines and gardens with a chicken coop, a shed and a barn.
Sebastian taught me what real communication is. He didn’t mean to. Never gave it a thought I’ll wager, but from him I had my first of many lessons that it is important for a person to check the territory around someone’s words to find their meanings before making a deal. It was because of this bunny.
Some other family decided that taking care of a rabbit was too much trouble so they gave it away. The lucky rabbit came to live at our house in a box in the kitchen, sharing carrots, lettuce and space with our family. My brothers and I were supposed to keep it clean and cared for but we didn’t do very well. My mother, raised in farm country, said that was where the rabbit belonged so we were sold on the idea that the bunny would go to Grandpa’s house.
I pictured it living in a little shed next to the barn, being fed and watered and visited every time I went there. We brought the rabbit to the earthy chicken house and fed it bits of grass through the fence. Satisfied that it would be happy there, I went home with a smile.
On our next trip there, I ran to the rabbit hutch. Empty. I asked Grandpa about it but, obviously, his Italian and my English weren’t making the proper connection. Something was wrong.
I went for another answer and then another before I accepted. Our pet bunny had become rabbit stew. Grandpa’s enthusiastic thanks had nothing to do with the soft ears and cute face. The bunny had joined Grandpa at his weathered, little table behind the house, the reason for his full belly just before the silent pipe.
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