My first tribute last month recounted the wonders of author Joy Adamson becoming a first-time mother to three lion cubs in the desert of Kenya back in the late fifties, then writing an awe-inspiring book about it called Born Free. I also hoped that it was a worthy tribute to my friend and great Epinions writer, Hard_to_Please (Mark), who had recently been diagnosed with advanced cancer and might be encouraged to be born again freed of his cancer. He was indeed pleased with the tribute!
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Now I add Adamsonís sequel, Living Free, as my second tribute, both of which benefit Mark financially, for not only do I wish him to be reborn free of the disease, but to also to keep on living free as did Elsa, the Adamsons' lioness that they raised.
In the movie version of Living Free, I read that Joy and her game warden husband George came back to visit Elsa after training her to survive alone in the wild and found her dying with three cubs only two days old. This radically differs from the book. Instead a healthy Elsa visits their camp many times before bringing her cubs with her and the Adamsons do not encourage the cubs to become friendly with them.
Despite Elsaís hopes that Joy would reach out to her cubs, which was evident by her puzzled looks at her friend that turned to disappointment, Joy steels herself against ruining the cubsí wild instincts. Elsaís favorite cub, Jespah, would become jealous of the author when his mother showed her affection, and so he starts to charge her, only to be smacked away by Elsa. After a while he becomes as affectionate with Joy, but it takes a few months with no encouragement from the woman.
With numerous (mostly) black and white photos included throughout the book, Joy makes us fall in love with Elsaís cubs, especially Jespah, one of the males, who has such an intelligent mind and lively spirit. Watching Elsa go hungry while her cubs eat or seeing how she protects and teaches them is as much an honor to read about as it is for Joy to be able to be an intimate part of Elsaís life.
But the Adamsons don't want to encourage dependency on them, so usually they keep their visits to only a few days at a time. That works until Elsa becomes injured and needs her wound treated for a few weeks. Elsa and her cubs really enjoy their human friends who feed them killed goats or other small game, but her mate (the father) would keep calling and so she would leave camp every so often. Elsa was still wild and made sure the Adamsons knew they couldnít be part of her other life.
Towards the end of the book, the problem of poachers coming after Elsa has become extremely dangerous and the Adamsons start to look for another home for Elsa and her cubs, so they may continue to live free. Will that be possible, do you think? All I will say is that the ending is very abrupt with a publisherís note after the last page, but I guess Joy wrote another sequel called Forever Free, which Iím very curious about!
I think one can learn a lot from these books as to what love is really all about. Elsa may have been raised from a couple days old to adulthood by the Adamsons, which made it easy for her to love them, but her cub Jespah did not have any reason to love Joy or George and had to fight his animal instincts only because his mother wanted him to. The fact that he did begin to love his human friends makes me marvel at the power and the mystery of love. Perhaps the Adamsonís love came through to him because they did not expect co-dependency, but respected him for the wild creature he is.
The other male, Torpah, I believe, adored his brother so much that he learned to trust the Adamsons enough to play or sleep inside the tent, but the girl cub, Little Elsa, only made it a few inches inside the flap. I doubt that means all girls are wilder, though!
I loved this book as much as Born Free and found it just as thrilling and moving to the end. Itís too bad the ending dropped off like it did, with the stark publisherís note, but at least it saved me from crying since it seemed so unreal. Iím wondering now if Joyís last book takes up where this one left off. Since thereís no movie of it or much mention made of it, Iím afraid it will be the tearjerker of the three.
Love, as Joy so beautifully communicates through her words and actions, means helping someone to become and to live free in the world they are created for. Even if youíve been a parent or grandparent to them, you need to give them the option of freely loving you and let them choose whether you will be part of their lives.
If Joy and George could do it with wild lions, you know such love is possible with other humans. Let those you love always live free.
Mark, I fervently hope the poachers (your cancer) are unable to take away your freedom and soon, because of the love youíve been shown, youíll be victoriously enjoying a new life as you are meant to live. Of course, itís your choice to accept our love. :-)
Please read my first tribute to Mark, my review of Born Free, if you haven't already done so. Both tributes are earning pennies for him. Thank you!
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