Mentor and friend King George was an exemplary example for me of fearlessness intertwined with endurance. He tolerated the March floods of 1955, survived the April mud slides and prospered through the housing construction during May.
Nobility ran deep in his blood. He jumped from job to job, hopping and leaping and taking on the most arduous tasks, resembling “D-Day”, the largest amphibious invasion of all time. My fifth-grade history teacher, Mrs. Hunt, was progressive that year.
King George wasn’t just noble he was a member of an occupational caste—endogamous, with cultural heritage and social hierarchy. His carriage elicited dignity, and his melodious voice matched that of Louis Armstrong. His caste spanned countries around the globe, a classical antiquity that commanded respect in the eco-systems for centuries.
For my ten years of age I couldn’t distinguish King George from a leopard frog. There were fourteen species within the true frog genus Rana. He was green with prominent black spotting, and as cute as the future Kermit the Frog. However, I did know that his species would be the subject of pioneering studies in evolutionary biology—according to Mrs. Hunt.
During June King George swept through the outhouse, eliminating spiders and flies. He cleaned out the webs throughout the garden, chased mosquitoes and ants, and even a sow bug or ten. His appetite was insatiable as was his habits and habitat. Fearing that King George would finish his job on our property and go away, I picked him up on the Fourth of July and stashed him in my pants pocket, thinking that would keep him safe and warm.
On July 5th, I awakened, reached my hand in my pants pocket and searched for King George. He wasn’t there. I searched my bed, under the bed, the bookshelf and my toy box, he was gone. But I was smart enough to turn my pants pocket inside out to make certain King George wasn’t there. He was there, representing a flat coin in the shape of a leopard frog. King George was dead, long live King George.
The summer of 1955 I learned a lesson that would continuously surface throughout my life. I told my family that I’d never let anybody pick me up and stash me away in their pocket, thereby avoiding death. My mother said I was being silly, and my two brothers and sisters said I was stupid. With that in mind I took the Buddha quote, “Even death is not to be feared by one who has lived wisely,” and applied it to every aspect of my life.
King George was my friend and mentor; long live King George.