A True Story and Real Life Dilemma

oppossum

The following is a true story. By the time this is posted, I will have added a photo. For now, the story is more important:

Early in our camping experience last summer, my granddaughter and I heard my Jack Russell Terrier barking and came upon a baby opossum peeking out from behind our generator bin. It was frightened and clearly a bit young to be wandering around on its own.
I called the dog off and she scampered out of sight. (I say “she” because Nature makes females a bit more sturdy and independent early on. I will never know her true gender but my guess is an educated one.)
She appeared once more that day around our log splitter. This uncharacteristic sighting made me snap a photo and assume “something” had happened to her mother. When I told my husband, he said he had seen a dead baby opossum in the nearby bushes, the day before. Seems my “guess” had more legitimacy after that.
It was Sunday, and we were hours from leaving for home. I had learned from other lessons of interfering with Nature, that my human instinct to “get involved” was not always wise for either the wild animal or for my heart. I felt I just HAD to give her a chance. She had survived, so far, and although I could not take responsibility for her, I didn’t have to all-together turn my back.
Just before I left, I took a large handful of dry dog food and piled it, undercover, near the generator bin. With a heavy heart, I went home.
The next week, the dog food and opossum were gone.
I thought of her often throughout the summer. I also accepted the “not knowing” of what happened to her a mixed blessing.
Around the middle of October, my dog came strutting back to my campsite with a prize catch. My heart sank! He had caught and killed a juvenile opossum. It was from under the place where I had, months before, left the dog food. Even this moment, my heart is racing and my stomach is turning at the telling of an “almost” triumphant tale.
I have little doubt that the opossum was the orphan I had met in June. She HAD survived but had not learned enough to continue to survive.
This winter’s harshness has made me consider her violent end a possible blessing against the option of freezing or starving. Without a mother, her instincts may not have well prepared her.
The moral of this story, that I hold on to, is that I HAD cared. That I HAD tried to help. I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) have done more and that I really need to let go of the heart-sickening guilt I keep revisiting.
There would be those who would say, “You didn’t care or do enough.”
I would beg to differ.
The sick feeling in my stomach while writing this is still there.
I also had asked myself a number of questions. Here’s a few:
Can I find her in time?
Is her mother temporarily trapped in a dumpster and might she return?
How could I safely capture and transport her in the same car as my dog?
Would I really be offering her a better life by interfering?
Would my husband’s opinions on my decision matter?
Is there a law against bringing wild animals into a day care setting?
Would the Animal Hospital accept her?
How terrified would she be in all this?
Yes…I DID care deeply but I knew that caring didn’t give me the “right” to affect absolute changes nor did it protect me from possibly doing more harm than good.
I’ve learned a lot from this experience. I hope in telling this story, “little opossum’s”, AND my dilemma, speaks to you.
Don’t forget…I also may be wrong in my conclusion that every sighting of an opossum was the SAME opossum. And that my friends, is where hope lives.

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Random Word Story # 32~ Moving Along to Nowhere

5211895183_cc7770c5dd_bcombatant…hard…fantastic…square…habitual…defector

Here is my story:

There was something dark about the store clerk at the new Dollar General. She stood with rounded shoulders, and a defeated look in her eyes, as I approached the counter to check out. I would have guessed that she was much older, if we weren’t face to face. She was not much beyond the age of twenty, as I would learn, yet had the demeanor of a lone surviving combatant from a long lost battle.

Her southern drawl set her apart even further.

“You aren’t from around here, young lady.” I said.

“No ma’am. I’m from Alabama. Been he’ ah for two weeks, or so. I’m hopin’ to bring my kids he’ah soon.”

“My… you have children? You’re just a young thing.”

“I was twenty last month and I’ve got three baby boys back home with my momma. Their daddies were scumbags and I cum up here and met the love of my life for sure!”

Her grin was bright and happy but the sadness in her eyes did not fade. She nervously chewed on the side of her tongue as we spoke. It occurred to me that she may have been a beautiful child, once upon a time. Her face was heart-shaped and she had large blue eyes but her hair, seemed as though it was as stressed as her posture, with frizzy ends on a carelessly gathered ponytail.

I saw her as a defector. She’d left her children, after all, while pursuing what I could only imagine was an habitual trail of scumbags. Without having to ask, she went on…

“Met James on the internet. He’s going to bring my boys up soon and we’re buyin’ a house too.” She grinned as her eyes looked through me to an imagined “happy place”.

“That is fantastic! A new beginning, in a new place. I’m happy for you.”

Then I noticed  scars in both of her thin eyebrows and one that ran along her chin too. As she packed my items, her hands trembled.

My, too quickly made judgement, softened as I asked myself, “Why  do so many young ladies have to live such hard lives?”. I felt the urge to hug her and to tell her that things would get better…that she would find her happy ending, but I didn’t believe the latter. Not everyone gets a square deal. Her children would probably have similar fates without the foundation of roots and family and I felt helpless, very helpless to remedy her troubles. In fact I, shamefully, wanted to get away from her as quickly as I could, as if hard luck and ignorance were somehow catchy.

She continued, “James will be picking me up soon and we’re gonna call my kids to tell them about our house. We ain’t been approved yet but we’re hopin’ to hear this week. That ‘ill be ten dollars and seventy cents ma’am.”

“Thank-you. Best wishes to you and James.”

That night, I said several prayers for her family. I held on to a glimmer of hope for her sons, realizing that they might have a slightly better chance to find stability, simply by not being  “beautiful” daughters.

It has, now, been six months … and I have not seen her at the Dollar General again…

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My other Random Word Stories were complete fiction. Sadly, this one, came from a true encounter that I had last Fall.

Monkey Finds His Way

Monkey in Bali, Indonesia

Monkey in Bali, Indonesia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A little monkey got up one morning and decided to only look down from the trees.
It was wonderful!
He noticed that other monkeys lived in his neighborhood, he found a banana that had been overlooked, and he discovered his own shadow. Suddenly, he almost fell. His mother caught him and smiled gently.
The next day, the little monkey decided to only look upward.
It was wonderful!
He saw the clouds and the bluest sky. A flock of birds passed over and his heart felt as though it would burst from the beauty of it all. Suddenly, he almost fell. His mother caught him and smiled gently.
On the very next day, a bit more cautious little monkey, decided to look only behind himself.
It was wonderful!
All the while he walked, he could still see his soft leafy nest. Now, he was sure this was his best decision, yet. It made him feel warm and safe. Suddenly, he almost fell. His mother caught him, once again, and smiled gently.

This time, his mother warned him that he must look around to best prevent himself from falling. Little monkey had fun looking around until he noticed ugly, fearful things were in the forest.
This was not so wonderful!
“Mother? I was happier when I looked down and looked back and looked upward. How can you look around and still smile?”
“I have an eye for beauty, a mind that knows discovery and warm memories of safe places, all those things make me smile.”

“I just don’t understand why I must look around when I don’t want to see ugly, fearful things?”

“Because, my dear little monkey, I will not always be near enough to catch you.”

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I have no doubt that this story has already been told, in some form or fashion. I am alarmed by what I consider over-protectiveness on the part of  many young parents who want only happy, dreamy feelings filling everything in their children’s environment. Because of that opinion, I wrote this story today, and my words came to me separately from any other sources. 😉

The Question Mark Tree

question tree 1

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Carmella May Sweet,

Climbed to her seat,

Up in the Question Mark tree.

She was given a task,

Her teacher had asked,

Just what she wanted to be?

As she wondered, “Why?”

Her brother played spy,

Watching her, way down below.

Grandma came home,

Daddy dug loam,

Her thinking was sorrily slow.

A small forest newt,

In a bright red suit,

Crawled happily in the shade.

Carmella knew,

The day would be through,

Before her decision was made.

The farmer next door,

 Swept his barn floor.

As daylight turned to dark.

Suppertime near,

No answer yet clear,

Her dog was beginning to bark.

All day had passed.

She walked home at last.

Troubled ’bout who she would be.

Homework undone,

She started to run,

An answer came through suddenly.

No need to decide,

But simply take pride.

In all that she is everyday.

So much of what’s you,

Is more than you do.

So this is all she could say:

I’m a sister, granddaughter, daughter and friend.

A neighbor, love Nature, these things have no end.

I think I’ll simply wait and see.

For now, I like just being me.

Doctor Hopper

designallDoctor Hopper, a handsome dude,

 Only eats from happy food.

A helping hand or handmade gift,

Gives this fellow quite a lift.

He always shares and travels miles,

Seeking kids who offer smiles.

Wanting things, just isn’t why,

A person, sometimes, needs to cry.

Being glum is not okay.

It’s not your birthday every day.

A sour frown’s no good to eat.

Insects only like what’s sweet.

You’ll find this superhero bug,

In every single happy hug.

The doctor wants the world to know,

Nectar comes from the love we show.

Cheer for your friends, and family too,

Keep him fat, he counts on you.

Random Word Story # 27~ The Gloved Hand of Fate

Random words generated by…creativitygames.net

sparrow pillow policeman headline hygiene definition

Here’s my story:

English: A pile of pillows.

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Newton was the definition of perfect hygiene. Ever since he was small, he was germ conscious. So when it came to choosing his new pillow, Newton took no chances.

He spent hours, which became days,…and months, choosing the most hygienic replacement for the place his face would rest, half of the time, in each day. Sampling was his biggest obstacle though. How might he give a new pillow a serious try when other customers would have placed their germy noggin upon any prospect? Newt had become an expert in avoiding contaminants in his 22 years and the “pillow problem” was not going to defeat him. So, he devised a solution by covering his head and face with extra-large surgical gloves. It was quite a stretch, indeed. But Newton was determined and the scoffs and laughing of patrons did not interfere in the least.

His inspiration for the “war on germs” was a near-death experience with influenza as a child. Newt vividly remembered struggling for air and the pictures of the doctors faces, sullen and clueless. His mom’s sobbing from somewhere beyond, still woke him out of dreams in a cold sweat. His asthma was a condition not a death sentence, after all.

The term “all natural” had become his signature. “All natural Newt” researched his selection and was thrilled to find a shop which proclaimed everything beyond its door held the desired title. Naturally Nature, a small store next to Organic Offerings, had an ad in the directory and pillows were boldly printed in their inventory list. Newton, armed with surgical gloves, was finally optimistic about finding his new pillow. He made a purchase and his first, direct, contact with his $200.00 gem came that evening.

The headline in the newspaper two days later: Man Killed by Sparrows

The article read: A policeman at the scene, tried to resuscitate Newton Jones who appears to has suffocated. A pillow filled with sparrow feathers was found beside the deceased. Although illegal in this country, sparrow feathers are used in imported products. Apparently, Mr. Jones had a violent allergic reaction to the feathers. When the victim was discovered, foul play was assumed due to the surgical glove stretched over his face. After a brief investigation, it was deemed a desperate attempt by Jones to relieve his symptoms. Coroners claim he suffocated by his own glove…hand.

Random Word Story #26~Not for Profit

Infrared remote control receiver for Arduino

profit…ticket…old man…vet…sofa…war

There was a battle going on and Ben, this time, was only a spectator. He felt powerless…

As he wrapped himself in the afghan and settled into the sofa, he automatically probed the spaces for his TV remote. He considered what to watch realizing, only then, that he was unaware of the day and date. How long? His mind scrambled for a recent event that he could use as a landmark. Nothing… He was a military vet, now at  war, with himself.

A chopper roared overhead and as the dust cleared, he was back on base. The US flag gave a crack, as the wind wrestled with it, straight above his head. #1 mess hall was emptying. There were fly boys everywhere. He was momentarily startled but smiled broadly when his “brothers” approached him. They were cackling with laughter and he couldn’t wait to hear the joke.

Ben raised his hand to wave and brought the remote from between the cushions. He wasn’t quite sure where he was until he noticed that Comedy Central was on. The TV was blaring laughter … now applause. Clap, clap, clapping…

Snap, snap, snapping went the artillery. It was dark. He was so afraid.

Covering his face with his hands, he felt wiry stubble and tried, oh so hard, to remember his last shave. An image of himself in the bathroom mirror pressed through the fog. He was wearing his Air Force uniform. Blood trickled from a shaving cut at the corner of his lip. He was no longer a ragged old man. His posture was stiff and his eyes were steady. As he wiped the blood with the back of his right hand, he noticed the TV remote was still in his grasp. Behind him was the sun coming through the living room window. He was wrapped in the afghan and standing beside the sofa. He licked his lips. They tasted like iron.

Benjamin decided to make himself some tea to calm his nerves… the warmth and flavor always helped to anchor himself in the “here and now”. Whatever and where ever that was.

As he returned to his well-worn place, he felt steadier. It was Monday…yes, he was sure of it. He had reached to the bottom of the tea container for the famous quotation ticket and noticed he still held it in one hand. Ben shook, a bit, as he read it. Then he tore it into tiny pieces and tossed it into the air.

“Madness is tonic and invigorating. It makes the sane more sane. The only ones who are unable to profit by it are the insane.” Henry Miller

Random Word Story #25~Carl’s Adventure

An area of the Sierre Madre jungle

An area of the Sierre Madre jungle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by creativitygames.net

bird…threat…shadow…capital…sand…chewing gum

Here’s my story:

The jungle was thick, steamy and oppressive. Carl had no idea when he’d become lost. Guess that’s how getting lost happens. It poses more of a threat, though, when you’re in a jungle rather than on the highway.

The humming of insects was deafening. He faded back and forth, noticing the din, then ignoring it …feeling afraid, then exhilarated. His vacation was almost over and his adventure was only beginning. He fumbled through his backpack taking inventory of his supplies. A compass…dang, why hadn’t he asked someone how to use it?… One unopened apple juice box …and one piece of chewing gum.

He felt helpless, yet for a moment, he was amused.

He thought, “MacGyver would even fold with these tools. Sucks to be me.”

Carl was a level-headed fellow. He considered himself safe until he wasn’t safe. No need to panic.

As the grin was fading from his face, there came a shadow from over head. A brightly colored bird was circling. It reminded him of a vulture from those Tarzan films he watched as a kid. When vultures arrived, folks knew they were in trouble with a capital “T”. He decided it might be a good idea to follow the bird. When he looked up again, he was hit in the face with a tremendous, wet dropping!

It was sandy and warm. His arms flailed! He couldn’t see! He couldn’t BREATHE!

“DUDE! Chill! It’s just a towel.”

Carl’s first sight was a purple kite flapping in the wind overhead. His next sensation was sound. Waves of the approaching high tide were drumming. His heart felt as though he’d just run a marathon. There was an afternoon steam rising from the over-baked sand in front of his beachfront accommodations…

It was then, the lifeguard retrieved his wet towel from Carl’s chest and walked into the sunset.

Not the same old feelings…

Hosta

Hosta (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Funny how our minds work. Just a photo of a hosta plant in another blog got me thinking. Yikes!

Here goes:

When I was a kid, we were very fortunate to have a family cottage on a lake. Along the side of the cottage was a patch of hosta plants. They grew every year even when mowed down to make a better path. I thought that they were homely, good for nothing, weeds. I’d trip over them while playing twilight games of hide-n-seek. But…there they grew with a tenacity that I could not appreciate in childhood.

I now have my own piece of outdoor heaven in a wooded area. There were barren, shady spots where nothing would grow. I discovered hostas in a new light. Their name even “put me off”. I had already decided, years ago, that I did not like hostas. At the local greenhouse, there was a larger variety of them than I had ever realized.

The happy ending is a lovely, much appreciated shady garden. Hosta does not mean the same to me now, although I can “drum up” a shudder, still, when reminiscing.

If I were to return to life as a plant, I think I would like to be a hosta. Rather plain…shade loving… and tenacious.

Random Word Story #24- The Coffee Shop Caper

Setta,japanese-leather-soled-sandals,japan

Setta,japanese-leather-soled-sandals,japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Random words generated by creativitygames.net

Here’s my story from random words.

junk…power…croissant…sandals…pajamas…crowd

It appeared that the bloody sandals were all that remained of the unknown victim. The grizzly discovery was near the dumpster of the Dunkin’ Doughnuts that occupied the corner opposite the new Starbucks. It was 7:45 am so crowd control was a nightmare. The police officers had been stopping on their usual rounds of the coffee shops. A stereotypical event for sure.

There had been a wave of panic in the small city after it had been shaken to the core with two murders in two days. Officer O’Malley (yes stereotypical) barricaded the area with his 260 pound , mostly muscular, body.  He waved at civilians, some in pajamas, and shouted for them to keep their distance. There was great power in his baritone voice.

“This is a crime scene folks! Stay back!”

In the meantime, the workings of the coffee shop continued unabated. Even the screams of the elderly bag lady who discovered the shoes had not risen above the din of fans and pans in the bake shop. So when Maurice swung open the back door with an armful of junk, he visibly jumped from the start that the scene gave him.

Officer O’Malley appeared beside him.

“Maurice, you’ll have to stand back inside. We have detectives about to arrive. ” He pointed to the ground a few feet away. The sandals had already begun drawing flies. They were sticking to the coagulating redness.

Maurice pressed on. He had work to do. They danced from left to right until Maurice took an opportunity to dip beneath a bulky arm.

After depositing the junk in the dumpster he scooped up the sandals. He raised them to his nose as a collective gasp and one wretch of nausea came from spectators.

“Yup, strawberry.”

He tossed the sandals back to the ground and re-entered the shop abruptly slamming the door behind him.

A taxi blaring an impatient horn was the only sound for miles. Then pockets of snickering ending with a back slapping roar as the misunderstanding became clear.

About 20 minutes passed before O’Malley, still red-faced, sauntered to the counter on the inside. Maurice shouted, “The usual 3 strawberry cremes and a decaf?”

The officer looked at his shoes as he whispered,” Make it a croissant today, will ya?”