It is a very cold winter morning so I think it’s a good time to write something that warms the heart. I’ve known two Franks in my life, each with a story worth telling. I hope you’ll love these characters as much as I do. Like many stories, the Frank stories don’t have a happy ending, but the memories are priceless.
The first Frank entered my life when I was nine years old. Frank was not a normal deer, he was magical. He was in the midst of changing from a summer tawny brown despite the cold temperatures. Small antlers crowned his head. I was playing outside with my sisters when Frank appeared from the trees. He watched us play at a distance, and didn’t stray far from his initial spot. He showed little fear of our dog or our noise, and hours later still remained near us.
The next day, Frank’s presence surprised the whole family. Assuming that over the course of the night he would have found a home in the nearby woods, we didn’t expect to see him. But he remained close-by, which delighted me. Wanting to approach the deer, my sisters and I decided to offer him food. My oldest sister braved the task of making the first offer since she was the biggest. With the same manner of feeding a horse, she held a piece of carrot in her open palm and slowly walked toward the mysterious creature. He turned his head away not as an act of instinct, but as if knowing we expected a defensive action. Turning back, he ate the carrot from her outstretched hand, bending his antlers down to the height of our stomachs.
Watching my sister achieve this, we instantaneously upped the ante and wanted to pet him. We used carrots, apples, grass, anything we thought a deer would eat to coax him to be near us. The first touch on his neck startled him, but he eventually gained our trust through our generous offerings. He let us touch him anywhere, as long as he knew we were approaching. His fur was coarse and flat, unlike a dog’s soft and fluffy fur. His puny antlers were hard with small ridges that rippled under the fingertips.
We named him Frank because at this point he was an official friend. Any animal that eats from your hand and lets you touch it is a good friend indeed. Frank was special, not only was he a deer, but he had character. He loved watching us play, and hated when we went inside the house for dinner. He would scratch his crowning antlers on the screen door, desperately wanting more time with his friends. We begged our parents to let him in the house, but they would have none of that.
Frank enjoyed our company and waited for the school day to be over to join us for play time. He ate like a normal deer outside, with additional subsistence from our kitchen. We once tried feeding him a banana, but he refused. Dinner time remained his agony, wanting to join us at the table.
For two weeks he remained nearby, not always in sight, but with regular appearances. One chilly morning, Frank walked us to the school bus stop. We worried about him being hit on Highway 2, where many remnants of rogue deer forms lined the ditches. He disappeared from our lives as quickly as he entered. I assumed like many deer before him he had met his maker via the grill of a semi-truck. His body was found near the bus stop the next day, waiting for his friends to come home.
RIP Frank the Deer- I will never forget you.