I am a horrible daughter. I left my mother at home alone with a mouse in the house and went to a diner to stress eat.
Let me start at the beginning.
Monday evenings my sister, Chrystal, attends BSF (Bible Study Fellowship) and is usually gone by the time I get home from school. A few Mondays ago I came home to find my mother staring at the floor beside her rocking chair saying, “I think we have a pet.”
My sweet 91-year-old mother has dementia so I wasn’t sure if she was hallucinating our cute little fox terrier, Puddles, from the 70’s or just seeing a dust bunny on the floor.
“What do you mean, you think we have a pet?”
“Over here by my chair. I think it’s a mouse.”
I had begun to walk over to her until she uttered the word “mouse” then I quickly began backtracking.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, and he’s so cute.”
She lowered her hand to the floor and I screamed, “Don’t touch it!”
“But he’s so cute. I just want to pick him up and cuddle him.”
“Stop!!! Don’t you dare.”
I gathered up what small amount of courage I had (which even on a good day is next to nothing) and stealthily walked over behind her chair to see our, hopefully imaginary, little pet. There was a tiny bundle next to her chair and I assumed it was just a lone Christmas ornament that had strayed from the pack. I thought that until I saw the bundle wiggle its ears.
“Eeeek, a mouse!” If there had been a chair close to me I would have jumped on it. Instead, I grabbed my phone and ran outside to our carport and called Chrystal.
“There’s a mouse in the house,” I said very Dr. Seuss-ly.”
“In the den. I thought it was a Christmas ornament until it wiggled it’s ears and now mother wants to pet it. What should I do?” I said that hoping she was going to race home to take care of it.
“It’s not running away?”
“No, it’s just sitting there freaking me out!”
“Well if it’s staying put and not scampering away it must be dying.”
“I think maybe mother rocked over it, causing him a slow, agonizing death.”
“Well don’t tell her that. She’ll feel bad.” At that point I didn’t really care what my sweet, mouse-loving mother felt.
“I can’t handle this. If it was a spider I could take care of it, but I don’t do mice. You have to take care of it.”
“OK, I will when I get home after BSF.”
“But that’s in 4 hours. I’m FREAKING out…”
By this time my anxiety level was rising along with my voice level.
“Get a bowl and put it on top of him. That way he won’t wander off before I get home. I’ll deal with it then.”
“Are you crazy?!?! This is freaking me out! I can’t even go back inside.”
“Where are you?”
“Outside in the carport.”
“(Sigh) Just go back inside and keep mother from touching him and put a bowl on top of him.”
“I can’t do that. I’M FREAKING OUT!!”
Chrystal laughingly gave up on me and hung up.
I went back inside, took a bowl from the cupboard and proceeded to ask my mother to put it on top of her pet.
“I can’t,” she said, “he’s too close to the chair.”
Bummer. I realized it was time for me to rise to the occasion and be the adult in the room. (I hate being the adult in the room.)
I prayed. Nothing. No bravery dust fell from heaven. I then recited all the Bible verses I’d committed to memory. Nothing. No sudden surge of courage. I did deep breathing. Nada. Just made me dizzy. So I stood frozen in the kitchen staring at my mother. When her hand went down towards her pet again I screamed, “Do. Not. Touch. That. Mouse.” Grabbing my purse, I made my escape outside leaving my crazy mother inside next to what might as well have been a terrorist.
I found solace in the loaded tater tots at Sherry’s diner down the street. Halfway through my tots I began to feel guilty for leaving my mother alone with a monster, but not guilty enough to go back home. Instead, ordering more food seemed better and definitely more logical.
Three courses later I figured it was time to venture home via the Starbucks drive through window for a Chai Tea Latte. I sat in my parking spot, sipping away, and left Chrystal a voicemail, “I’m here, but not going inside until you take care of the mouse.”
A minute later she texted that the coast was clear.
Once inside mother told me she didn’t know why I was frightened by such a cute little thing. I stared back wondering if she was always this way or if the dementia had taken her fear away. She also mentioned she may have slipped him some crumbs from her cookie. (No wonder we have mice, cuz If You Give A Mouse A Cookie…)
Not a proud moment for Miss Dana. Leaving one’s aging mother alone for four hours wasn’t kind, thoughtful or wise. What if she’d gotten up and tripped over the mouse as he tried to escape? What if she really did pick him up to have a snuggle? What if he had managed to escape only to wind up having a snuggle with ME in the night? (Shudder!)
Oh well. One of these days I will learn to not overreact. It reminded me of the time I found the leaf in my hallway, or when the power went out during a snowstorm (those of you who read my book will know those stories…you other losers need to buy the book and find out…hee hee). But I do so want to be the adult in the room. Like I said, a spider would be creepy but doable. When I was teaching at Crossroads Christian School we didn’t have a school nurse. If someone was hurt on the playground, we all had our specialty. Mine was vomit or blood. No broken bones for Miss Dana. Other teachers would pass out with blood or throw up themselves over vomit. So I guess being afraid of a mouse is my broken bones and spiders are my blood and vomit. We all have our skills. Fortunately for me Chrystal’s is mice.
I never saw a mouse in the house before December 9, 2019 or seen one since. It’s been 2 ½ weeks. I pray the streak continues.
Would you have been able to handle finding a mouse, alive or even half-dead, in your house? I can’t receive comments here in my blog, but please feel free to leave them on the Facebook post. Thanks!