How does someone prove his or her character, intentions, or competence?

To answer the question, I offer a true story about my sister. Believe it or not, it speaks to the kind of individual she has always been.

The Real Snow White
My sister Melisa is an animal lover, and “critters,” as she refers to them, sense that in her. Lost and neglected bunnies and dogs are among the countless creatures that have been drawn to her. They’ve seemingly had an innate sense that she’d know what they needed and provide it.

One of her dogs, a chocolate Lab named Brandy, was my sister’s canine counterpart. Naturally friendly to humans and all kinds of animals, Brandy happened to be in the backyard one day when a large hawk flew into a tree, jostling a baby squirrel from his nest. My sister’s grandson witnessed the incident. The squirrel landed in the grass; he was stunned but alive. Brandy protectively scooped him up in her mouth and delivered the infant ever so gently to my sister.

Too young to have any fur on his tail, he looked more like a mouse than a squirrel, but Melisa quickly realized what she was facing. Accordingly, the tiny squirrel went from being helpless and doomed to becoming Rakkety Tam, one lucky little fellow.

Melisa aptly named him after the baby squirrel character from the Redwall children’s novels by Brian Jacques. Notably, the fictional Rakkety Tam grew up to be a proud warrior, and my sister would do whatever possible to ensure her squirrel matured into a strong male.

Over the next days, weeks and months, my sister gave Rakkety Tam all the nourishment, comfort, and love he needed to thrive. To help him become independent, little by little, she acclimated him to the outdoors. Eventually, she placed his cage in the backyard with food and other comforts yet kept the door open so he could come and go as desired. For a few weeks, Rakkety Tam tested his freedom for longer and longer periods before returning to the safety of his transitional home. Inevitably, he went off to live with the wild squirrels in the neighborhood but still dropped by for visits, both at whim and when called.

My niece Chelsea was telling the story of Rakkety Tam to her good friend one day, yet despite having observed Melisa’s special way with animals, the young lady refused to believe that a squirrel, released to the wild, would appear when summoned. Melisa invited her to step outside.

Standing in the yard, Melisa mimicked squirrel chirps and called to Rakkety Tam by name. Within a minute, they heard rustling sounds coming from the high branches of a nearby tree and soon spotted a squirrel making his way down a tall pine. Right before the disbelieving girl’s eyes, Rakkety Tam scampered across the yard, scurried up my sister’s body, and ran circles around her neck and shoulders.

“Your mother’s Snow White!” the friend exclaimed.

Oh, yes! My sister is a living, breathing Snow White, but not because of Rakkety Tam. He existed as evidence, but Melisa was born with Snow White DNA. Genetic testing is not necessary to prove it!

My point?

Instead of jumping to conclusions or relying on others’ assessments, we can often learn just what we need to know about a person by listening and observing. Likewise, we continually demonstrate exactly who we are by what we say and do.

My best to you,

Sallie W. Boyles, a.k.a. Write Lady

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