Dad and the Opossum – A Story for Father’s Day
My father died last summer after a long battle with Parkinson’s related dementia, (Lewy Body Disease). In 2012 though, he ended up in the hospital after a health scare. I was worried about him so I flew home to New Brunswick.
Dad was an incredible storyteller. I’ve already written extensively about that. As a history prof, Dad wrote a few books about the human side of the World Wars, but I always urged him to write about his childhood. He never found the time.
When I visited him in 2012, I was afraid it might be the last time, so I tried to record him telling these stories. By then his disease had robbed him of that zest for storytelling but he still gave it a shot.
I’ve been saving these videos for special occasions. Today is my first Father’s Day as a father, but also the first since he passed so I decided to publish this one about his encounter with an opossum.
Not all of the details are clear in the video, so here’s what happened. As a teenager, he lived on a farm and was out checking the traps he’d set for muskrats and weasels. This time he caught an opossum. Now remember, opossums are very slow but are also known for playing dead.
Dad took the animal, bonked it on the head for good measure and threw it in the back of his truck or wagon, thinking it was dead. Then he rode home to show everyone his catch, but by the time he got there, unbeknownst to him, the opossum had stopped playing dead and crawled out of the truck to make it’s slow motion escape.
When he rallied everyone to see his great trophy, the thing was of course gone. In small town Michigan, everybody knows that opossums play dead and are very slow. Allowing one to escape is the work of fools, so Dad was ridiculed and shamed by his family and friends for many days to come. Haha!
At the end of the video he asks me if he’ll get in trouble, because he wanted to leave the hospital there in the dead of winter, so he could go home. Of course, he was not thinking straight because of his disease. He wanted out of his seat which he was secured to so he wouldn’t fall, but I told him the most trouble he’d get into would be from himself if he fell. It was hard to see this brilliant man, who used to run 10K a day, in such a state. Miss you Dad.
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