"Oh man," I replied, grabbing my crutches and slowly rising from the lovely couch bed my dear mother made for me. "Is it dead?"
I turned towards the kitchen and saw my dad poised cautiously with one hand on the back door. The mouse lay at least fifteen feet away and Dad was hissing at it softly in order to asses living status. It was two inches long and weighed about an ounce. Here's an approximate picture.
courtesy of hiphophoney.com
"It's alive," my dad declared. "What do you think we should do?"
"You should pick it up and put it outside in the ground cover, I think." Dad's hand was still on the door. He looked ready to flee at any forward movement from the tiny mouse.
"Uh, hmmm," he said. Then there was a long and very awkward pause. We both stood there staring at the mouse.
Finally I could take it no longer. "Uh, do you want me to do it?" I carefully maneuvered forward on my crutches to remind him of my invalid status.
He looked hugely relieved. "Yeah! Thanks, Tare." He opened the door and hurried outside and far away from the dangerous rodent. Somehow, and I can only assume it's because I am very brave and kind of saint-like, I managed to get the mouse outside, crutches and all. My dad wouldn't even hold the door open for me. He is truly a distinguished gentleman.
My dad is famous for his bravery and valor when it comes to all forms of wildlife. Once a raccoon crawled into my bedroom window. I woke up to the noise and screeched, causing it to flee out through the screen. When I ran downstairs and tearfully woke my dad for help, he assured me that I was just dreaming. Even the paw prints on the radiator didn't convince him. I ended up sleeping in the basement for months.
Annie reminded me last night that when she was about nine, she caught a garter snake and carried it over to my dad, who was sitting on the patio reading. He jumped up, ran inside the house, opened the window and yelled, "Annie! Throw it far away from you and run away as fast as you can!" Somehow, Annie managed to survive and the story was never featured on "When Animals Attack ."
The most famous story of my dad vs. the animal kingdom happened when I was eleven years old. My family was up at my aunt's house in Wisconsin. I was putting the vacuum away in the laundry room when I saw a gigantic snake slithering down the stairs. It was thirty feet long and a boa constrictor. Okay, not really, but it was huge, about six feet long and three or four inches wide. I screamed like a kid in a horror movie and locked myself in the laundry room.
My mom and dad came running in and saw the snake. Somehow, Mom, who is part crocodile hunter, corralled the snake into an old freezer that was in the utility room. My dad's plan was to turn on the freezer and kill it, but eventually they decided to put the freezer on a dolly and wheel it outside. Once there, my mom opened the door. The snake hissed, coiled and headed right back into the house.
What did our brave father do then? He ran like the wind and locked himself inside the station wagon. My sisters and I sat in the window, looking out and screaming. Interestingly enough, the things we were yelling said a lot about our personalities. Me: "Kill it! Get rid of it!" Annie: "Don't kill it! Please don't kill it!" Kerry: "Can I see the blood?"
Like any mother in nature, my mom's instincts were to protect her young. Somehow my dad missed that course in parenting. She picked up a handy sickle (like I said, my aunt really did live in the middle of the woods) and chopped the snake nearly in half. Then she flung its corpse into the woods where it hung for three days as a warning to other snakes. My mother doesn't mess around.
Somehow, Dad managed to get out of the station wagon. I don't know how you regrow your man card after an infraction like that. Actually, the baby mouse and I know that it still hasn't grown back. My father, my hero.