One night, as I cooked dinner in our home on the zoo grounds, I brooded over my troubles. I didn’t want to spend the evening feeling sorry for myself, so I thought about Steve out in the back, fire-gazing. He was a very lucky man, because for Steve, fire-gazing literally meant getting to build a roaring fire and sitting beside it, to contemplate life.
Suddenly I heard him come thundering up the front stairs. He burst wild-eyed into the kitchen. He’s been nailed by a snake, I thought immediately. I didn’t know what was going on.
“I know what we have to do!” he said, extremely excited.
He pulled me into the living room, sat me down, and took my hands in his. Looking intensely into my eyes, he said, “Babe, we’ve got to have children.”
Wow, I thought, that must have been some fire.
“Ok-aaay,” I said.
“You don’t understand, you don’t understand!” he said, trying to catch me up to his thoughts. “Everything we’ve been working for, the zoo that we’ve been building up, all of our efforts to protect wildlife, it will all stop with us!”
As with every good idea that came into his head, Steve wanted to act on it immediately. Just take it in stride, I said to myself. But he was so sincere. We’d talked about having children before, but for some reason it hit him that the time was now.
“We have got to have children,” he said. “I know that if we have kids, they will carry on when we’re gone.”
“Great,” I said. “Let’s get right on that.”
Steve kept pacing around the living room, talking about all the advantages of having kids--how I’d been so passionate about carrying on with the family business back in Oregon, and how he felt the same way about the zoo. He just knew our kids would feel the same too.
I said, “You know, there’s no guarantee that we won’t have a son who grows up to be a shoe salesman in Malaysia.”
“Come off the grass,” Steve said. “Any kid of ours is going to be a wildlife warrior.”
I thought of the whale calves following their mamas below the cliffs of the Great Australian Bight and prepared myself for a new adventure with Steve, maybe the greatest adventure of all.
Terri Irwin, Steve & Me
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