I had the privilege recently of flying next to a wonderful black woman named Hester, both of us traveling back to Atlanta from Ohio. She was near eighty years old; raised in the United States in Mississippi back in the 1930's and 40's. I was completely intrigued by her magnificent stories of her sharecropper father and being raised in that day in time. She had married young and has several children right away then her young husband went off to war and never made it home she told me.
During the conversation she told me how much she enjoyed sitting at her house watching birds and squirrels coming to her many feeders. She said she could do that for hours. I told her of my travels to Africa and that sitting and watching the animals there was my favorite past-time.
Eventually I shared some of my Africa photos with her. When I came to the one of the cheetah in my lap Hester said, "Girl, what in the world is that thing in your lap for?" I told her the cheetah had been hand raised. As quick as lightning she said, "I don't care if he had been breast fed." I laughed out loud.
I will never look at that photo again, one of my favorites, without thinking of Hester.
Update: Sadly, I learned the cheetah in this photo was killed by a lion in December of 2009. What a great privilege to have been so close to her.