Monday, October 22, 2012

Myrtle the Turtle

Dear Mom,

Not only does watermelon remind me of you, it is my favorite fruit. I just bought one at Trader Joe’s and I was a little worried it might not be very good since it’s towards the end of the watermelon season. But oh, was it delicious. I think that’s the last one I’ll purchase for the year so as not to ruin the watermelon season for myself.

What does this have to do with Myrtle the Turtle? Hang on, I’m getting to it.

I cut up the watermelon and put the rinds in a bag to carry out to the woods—hoping some critter would find it a tasty treat. And surprise, here’s what I saw…

 Can you see him in the lower left corner?

Here he is!
As soon as I spotted it, it reminded me of my younger years when we’d go to Uncle Harold and Aunt Mary’s farm. Once we got there, you’d let Ruthie roam wherever we wanted and off into the woods we’d go… seemed like we’d always find a turtle. Sometimes you’d let us take the turtle home.

Remember when we found a three-legged turtle that we named Myrtle the Turtle? And Myrtle the Turtle lived in our basement… that is until the day Myrtle was in the wrong spot—where Dad pulled the car in and….

I guess you cleaned up the mashed Myrtle before Ruthie and I got come from school. You never told us what really happened, but that Myrtle must have gotten away. We found out from Dad many, many years later that he ran over Mrytle. I never held it against Dad, after all, it was an accident. But as an immature kid, would I have seen it that way?

Do you think that was the right decision looking back? To protect children from knowing the truth—fearing it’d be too traumatic or that we would’ve resented Dad for not being more careful?

I did the same thing to my daughter, Rita. She was in Kindergarten when I broke the news that her black cat, Spaz ran away. In reality, I drove Spaz to the Humane Society. Trust me, I had a good reason why, and I didn’t feel Rita was mature enough to understand. I too, had protected her from seeing the truth about someone.

I wonder whether I would have acted differently if you had told us the truth about Myrtle?


  1. That's a good idea not to purchase any more watermelon this year, just in case :)

    That was such a good choice on your mom's part, not to tell you about Myrtle. Kids do have a tendency to overreact and hold grudges...

    It was a different story, but my mom and grandparents told me my cat, which I brought with us when we moved and he stayed because he loved me (we went to the store together; he'd follow me everywhere) had ran away. Later I found out a neighbor poisoned him. That one I can't let go of, an accident is an accident, but this seems cruel, even now.

  2. I think you made the right decision, mom.

  3. The truth is important, but so is protecting one's child, and a mother knows best how to do that. You did the right thing.

    My dad rescued a desert tortoise when we lived in Nevada. She was huge and ugly and he named her Miss America. She was happy in her backyard habitat. The vet didn't expect her to make it, but she lived a long life.

  4. I would have done the same thing, Lynn. I still remember when I was in elementary school and my parents and I had to take a stray cat we had kind of adopted to the Humane Society because our neighbor threatened to shoot it if we didn't do something about it. My parents didn't protect me and I still remember them putting our poor cat in the cage and bawling my eyes out. UGH! It's such a hard decision. I love the turtle pics, btw!

  5. What a cutie ... I have always wanted a pet turtle, but not enough to get one.

    I think that your Mom and Dad made the decision that they thought was best for you guys, just as you did for Rita. It is kind of like Santa Clause, you know when the time is right to spill the beans.

    One time my Dad came home for lunch, and our cat, Candy, hopped on to the car tire where it was nice and warm. I guess that she thought he was home for the day, but he wasn't. He hopped in, backed up, and she got really skinned up. We were all there to see it too, but she ended up being fine. We all learned to check the tires before moving the car after that.


    Kathy M.

  6. I'm sure all parents can relate. We just never want our children to feel pain if we can help it. Love your "new," watermelon-loving Myrtle!

  7. Great post Lynn! I would have done the same b/c yes, we do want to protect our kids from hurt hearts. I took piano lessons when I was very young and one of the first songs we learned was called "Myrtle the Turtle." My brother found a turtle once down at the creek and brought him home. He kept him in an old fish tank for a long time, and finally one day let him go. His name was Myrtle, too ; )

  8. You definitely made the right decision, though I think when you told me this story you gave me the impression you gave Spaz to another family...


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