A Thanksgiving Story originally published on my blog, Art Of Collecting Yourself.
When I was a kid, I had a pet turkey named Tom (creative, I know). Tom was little when he came to live with us. He was the odd ball out. The one turkey in a yard filled with lots of chickens; the only male in the hen-house. If you have never lived with a turkey, day in and day out, you might not know what large egos they have. This was the case with Tom for sure. He could strut across the yard better than John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. It was almost impossible not to be enamored with him.
I had just gotten my driver’s license when I discovered that someone had broken into my truck one night and stolen the Alpine Radio I got for Christmas. I was so upset, so mad. I’d never had anything stolen before. I hopped in the truck and sped down our long driveway in reverse. At the end of the driveway, I hit a bump. It was Tom, and although he was badly hurt, he was alive. I was crushed. And honestly….so was he. The sting of the missing radio was gone, quickly replaced with my concern for Tom. I would never have hurt him.
Tom had a hole in his little red beard, and he sat a bit crooked, but we hoped he would recover. We cared for him for several weeks, and eventually he was strutting like nothing had ever happened. Well almost….
Tom had a reason to live, revenge. It seems turkeys hold grudges just like anyone else who gets blind-sided. Everyday he waited for me to walk to my truck, the same truck which I had driven when I hit him. He tried to run up and spur me every day. The spurs are hard and sharp. I had plenty of reason to be afraid. He was stealthy and quick. It was an everyday ritual. I would peek out the window, trying to find him. When I thought the coast might be clear, I would make a run for it. I had to carry a broom with me, swooshing him gently away as I came and went.
And when I drove out of the driveway, I learned to be patient. He would, with his crooked little bird body, attack the tires which had attacked him. I almost ran over him again several times, even though I tried my darndest to stay clear. He just wouldn’t give up. He was Don Quixote charging at windmills.
But as much as I was afraid of him, I understood his obsession. If I had not have cared for him and found him so irresistible, I might have given up on him. But I just couldn’t. The family tried to come up with a solution.
We even got him a little female turkey thinking that he would set revenge aside for love. But Tom was smart enough to keep vigil over the truck by day and romance her by night, a regular TOM Juan. Eventually, we found new homes for the two, a place where they could roam free from vehicles. It was, of course, the right thing to do. They grew old together there. Happily.Tom was never meant for the table, and thankfully, he never made it there. I think of him every year as others are looking for the perfect bird for their Thanksgiving table. I wouldn’t hold a grudge at all if in the end, his new life helped him forget me all together. I know I will never forget him. He was the turkey who stole my heart.