Saturday, November 25, 2006

There's No Place Like Home

I spent Thanksgiving in Arkansas. It was fun and gratifying and restorative. The highlight was a rat's death.

This particular rat had been living in my father's garage for a while. But on Tuesday night before Thanksgiving, one of Dad's household helpers screamed when she went out to the garage and saw it run across in front of the dumpster. All of us inside the house heard the scream.

"It's a rat," Dad said and I guess he knew. My dad nowadays sits in his chair and reads Walgreens ads. It hurts me to see it.

The rat brought him alive.

I admire Dad for not calling the thing a mouse. Many would, because it's humiliating in some ways to have a rat in your house and not a mouse. But my dad is not afraid of the truth. My dad is blunt and purposeful. It was a rat.

First, he leaped up out of his chair. This was no small doing and we hadn't seen it for a while. He stepped briskly into the kitchen and got the peanut butter jar and the saltines. No one could stop him. He hobbled out to the utility room and set the have-a-heart trap overnight. Nobody helped him. Nobody wanted to. It's a gruesome thing, to catch vermin, at least in my view (although ref. my squirrel-catching career). For him, it's homeowning responsibility. In the morning, we got to hear another shriek from another helper when she went out to dispose of more garbage.


I had known over the years that Dad killed the things he caught in the trap. It doesn't make sense, of course, to catch something in a have-a-heart trap and then kill it, but that's what he does. I think he thinks the snap-traps are expensive. Maybe.

He took the trap outside (in full view of motorists and joggers) and started trying to stab the rat with a screwdriver. This is when my daughter came back from her run and witnessed the attempted murder.


"That's okay," I said.

What else could I say?

Pretty soon his advanced age made it obvious that he wasn't going to be able to stab the thing. So he got another screwdriver from the garage and went at it with double dutch chopsticks strategy. I doubt he ever had to use two screwdrivers in his younger years, but he had to this time.

All the women, and my dad is surrounded these days by women-- me, my daughter, the helpers, even my Alzheimer's mother, were screaming inside the house. "STOP!"

Dad killed it. None of us was there to see it. You know why? Because we're cowards. Dad belongs to an earlier generation, the kind that killed rats and pests and didn't think anything about it.

He came back in and picked up the Walgreens ad.

I came home today.

I love my dad and honor him. He's the greatest.

A bientot


At 10:46 PM , Blogger sandman1 said...

Wow, that is a highlight.

Last Sunday we discovered something inhabiting my mother's house. I heard it climb up the house, and while investigating I then saw it poke it's little head out of the seam at the edge of the roof. It was interested in my shining a flashlight up on it, but did not look like it feared for one second that I might kill it with a screwdriver. It's right about that. The exterminator has since said it's probably a flying squirrel, and therefore there are probably at least eleven of them. She also has mice that apparently are not completely exterminated yet, despite a previous professional attempt. While chasing the squirrel we found two mice who had succumbed to the poison, but I also heard little feet. I hope they fare better with the squirrels -- they have a plan.

At 7:00 AM , Blogger Becky said...

Good luck to your mother, SM. I feel her pain.


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