Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bee-ing Compassionate

Article as it appeared in the Suburban Journal - West County newspaper on June 23, 2010. First of four columns for me to write for the Opinion Shaper commentaries.

Carrying on a legacy of carrying for animals

By Bonnie Krueger

The "getting to know you" ice breaker question� in my women's Bible study was "List one good trait passed on to you from your family, and on the reverse, list one you wish you hadn't acquired and would change."

Compassion for animals was my immediate response for the positive trait. Not that my dad was anti-animals, but it was really my mom and grandma who exuded this from their core beings.

Having numerous conversations with my mom about her love for animals, I knew that this was a multi-generational love. In addition to being an incredible gardener, my great-grandpa Thomas cared for his bee farm where he had a successful business canning honey.

My family is enjoying the last harvested jar, which was canned on June 13, 1954. I treasure each drop,� and will find it bitter-sweet when the last of it is consumed.

I recall a summer day as a teenager watching my mom lovingly rescue a honey bee from our in-ground pool. "He is still alive, poor thing," she said to me. "It is struggling so hard to save itself."   She held it softly in the palm of her hand, patiently waiting for its wings to dry out and for it to reclaim his zapped strength. After several minutes of holding it - meanwhile sharing with me bee stories from her grandpa - it finally reclaimed his strength. The bee walked around the palm of my mom's hand before finding its equilibrium and flying off into the wind.

My mom's true character shined for me in that moment. Most people wouldn't have taken the time to give the bee a second thought.

My grandma who lived in a Chicago suburb maintained a large animal farm. At the pinnacle of her farming, she owned sheep, goats, peacocks, chickens, pigeons, roosters, ducks, geese, rabbits - even a few spider monkeys and pet raccoons. Visiting her was joyful. I loved the goats. There was Ginger, Little Gin, Brownie, Cocoa, Bonnie and Clyde.

Despite the plethora of animals to enjoy at the farm, it is still my mom's example that impacted me the most. In the last 20 to 25 years of her life, she lived out her belief system in animals. She became a strict vegan and began using beauty and cleaning products that did not contain animal products, and refused to use products that were tested on animals.

Having grown up with dogs, it was interesting to see her develop a love for cats. She became active in fostering kittens and cats, with literally hundreds of them passing through the� specially designed� living area of my parent's home. On any given week her agenda would also include injured duck rescues. Yes, my mom was faithful to who she was and lived it out fully.

Knowing my mom, grandma and great grandpa's history, I certainly understood their passion. People had failed them - time and time again - but animals were always faithful.

My mom told me something that struck a chord with me that I'd like to pass on to you.� Animals cannot help themselves. They are at the mercy of other animals and the people they encounter.

She often said a person's true character was shown in how they treat animals and how animals responded to them. Treasures in heaven, she said, were stored up for those people who dedicate their lives for the least of God's creations.

Bonnie Krueger of Manchester is one of 12 West County area Opinion Shapers. Opinion Shapers are guest writers who submit a column three times a year on areas of interest to them. Krueger is a homemaker, who enjoys researching family genealogy. She blogs at and


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