I am a Christian writer and speaker. I have authored or co-authored several books and my work has also appeared in numerous publications; magazines, anthologies,and devotionals including, Focus on the Family, The Upper Room, The Secret Place, David C Cook Company, Lifeway, Celebrate Life, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and many others. Visit my website at http://harrietemichael.com
Once upon a time in the jungles of Africa,
a hunter by the name of John did something hunters should never do. He fired
his weapon before actually seeing the animal he was firing upon. John saw some
trees limbs moving and shot his gun. After all, he was in the depths of the
jungle; the movement could not be anything but a ferocious animal, right?
After firing the gun, John heard a thud when the animal hit
the ground. But as he approached, it became clear that the animal (or at least
the animal that was still living) was not ferocious at all. There on the ground
before him lay the body of a dead monkey and with her a tiny newborn monkey,
clung to his mother for dear life.
John felt terrible! He picked up the baby monkey and brought
him home where he cared for him like a baby, feeding him through a bottle until
the little guy was strong enough to eat solid food. Then he called his friend,
Cecil was “Uncle Cecil” to me. He was one of my missionary
uncles. At the time I knew him and his wife, “Aunt Marie” their children were
grown and had moved on. Since my real grandparents were half a world away,
Uncle Cecil and Aunt Marie became like adopted grandparents to me.
John asked Cecil if he knew a family that might want a pet
monkey. Uncle Cecil thought of my family with our four children. When he called
my dad to see if we wanted the monkey, he said he already had a cage too and if
we would take the monkey, he could make a trip our way bringing the monkey, and
cage – the whole caboodle to us. My dad named our pet Cecil John Caboodle, but
we called him CJ.
CJ was different from most pet monkeys. He lived in a cage
in our back yard, yes, but unlike other pet monkeys who had to stay in their
cage or they would escape; CJ could be let out to play with us. We did this
almost daily. In fact, CJ was a bit of an escape artist. He managed to pick
lock after lock of his cage. I assume his tiny finger would fit in the key hole
and he just manipulated it until it came open. Once, my father even placed a combination
lock on the cage. CJ managed to open it as well.
But no worries, CJ never left our yard. We think he was
afraid of the bush, after all he had never known anything but humans. He was
one of us. And oh the fun we had with him! I remember sitting on a tree limb
with CJ on another limb and telling him to jump to me. I learned the hard way
that a monkey, even a small monkey, jumps with considerable force. The first
time CJ jumped to me, I fell backwards onto the ground and had the wind knocked
out of me. After that, I made sure there was also a branch behind my back to
stabilize me. There is nothing quite like having a tiny monkey jump into your
open arms from ten feet away. He always landed with his little arms open clinging
to my shirt.
Sometimes CJ was trouble though. Sometimes he got into our
house and raided my mothers costume jewelry. He especially liked her earrings
which he put in his mouth. Did you know that monkeys have pouches on either
side of their mouths? They put food in these pouches to save and eat later. I
guess CJ thought my mom’s earrings were food. We would have to hold him down
and pry open his mouth to retrieve the jewelry. And CJ loved to chase the cats.
We had two cats who were both afraid of CJ. I have eaten many a dinner to the
sound of animals running across the tin roof above me. First would come the
sound of a scamper and then another scamper followed by CJ’s paws sort of
lopping across. My dad would roll his
eyes and say, “CJ got out of his cage again. After dinner one of you kids has
to catch him and put him up for the night.”