Requiem for Chuck
~ 16 Year Old Rescued Iguana ~
Written by Josie Willis
I was green, ordinary and unloved. In Florida, where I was born, pet iguanas are often released into the wild when their owners no longer want them. Luckily, I was not one of them. Still, no one wanted me, or so I thought. One morning, the sun barely aloft, my owner stuffed me inside a cracker box, taped it securely and dumped me at the doorstep of a reptile store in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Starving, with bones you could count on your fingers, I was terrified. My world had suddenly turned dark, with only pinholes to remind me of the light.
I was green, ordinary and unloved. I did not know there were other iguanas like me in dreadful circumstances. I felt abandoned, and alone…but not for long. On that day, the owner of the reptile store took pity on me. He told a frequent visitor, a college student, that she could have me for free, if she wanted. Seemingly ungrateful, I promptly bit her.
She took me into her dorm and her heart, and named me “Chuck.” She was my heroine and my angel. She treated me like royalty, feeding me specially chopped fruits and vegetables, and let me share her sofa and her chairs. She allowed me to explore her world. I roamed the open spaces, tasting with my tongue the delicious freedom that was mine in the great indoors.
Each morning, I would park my green body by the refrigerator, the source of all things delicious. No longer undernourished and unloved, I had become “her” Chuck. King Chuck to you. In time, she taught me to run the Iguana Grand Prix. Up on my haunches I would go, like a medieval dragon, racing across the room for the prize banana she held in her hand. Oh, I was smart, so smart was I!
She was twenty-two, and I just a bitty iguana when she rescued me. Then, she became a teacher, taking me to elementary school classrooms where she taught: Florida, North Carolina and Texas. I was now well-traveled, as well as pampered. Panthers, tigers, eagles for mascots—not when I was around. In her classroom, the iguana known as “Chuck” ruled. Her students became my friends, passing me from one to another, some kissing my royal dewlap. I had reached my zenith.
On holidays, she dressed me in special costumes, which I secretly kicked off behind her back. Yes, there was still a wild streak in me.
Over the years, she and I were inseparable through good times and bad. I lived in a fairy tale world, the past a dim vignette. Although I had brothers and sisters along the way, I knew I was Number One. How do you thank someone who saved your life, who made you part of theirs? I knew someday my blessed life would end. I admit I had grown fat and lazy in the interim. I knew that when I died, she would cry. I was her green friend named “Chuck,” who’d entertained and loved her for sixteen years. She was God’s gift to me, and I to her as lessons in compassion.
I did not want her to be present when I died, and so it was. I spared her a long ordeal. My life, my choice. In the end, I was not abandoned and alone, as I once thought I would be. Though my beginning with my first owner was abusive, my ensuing life with my new mother was the stuff most iguanas can only dream of. I know I will linger in her heart and memory, but if she ever wants to see me, she need only look skyward to see me sparkling among the stars to realize that I still love her.
Requiem for Chuck
“Requiem for Chuck” written by Josie Willis
I hope you have enjoyed, “Requiem for Chuck, a 16 Year Old Rescued Iguana“
You may also enjoy: Drako Davis, a Rescued IGUANA With a Story to Tell
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