Learning from Childhood



When I was little my Dad would come in to our room (my sister and I shared a room) to tuck us in and say good night.  I still remember it like it was yesterday; but it has been almost 40 years ago.  I remember that I would hear Dad's footsteps as he headed towards our room and I would close my eyes and try to lay really really still and pretend that I was asleep.  I would do my best not to wiggle or to giggle and I can only imagine what I looked like when my Dad entered the room.

What I remember most was what my Dad would say trying to get me to start laughing.  He would say,  "Ahh, someone is playing possum....  I am sure someone is playing possum.) Then sometime after he would say that I would start giggling and laughing and he would sit on my bed and share a laugh as he told me good night.  Then one night I asked him what that meant - playing possum and he told me.

He told me about the possum and how it plays dead when it feels threatened.  How it will lay very still acting like it is dead until the threat is gone and then get up and walk away.  A defense mechanism, so to speak.  I was intrigued by the story; but that is all that is was to me.  Just a story.

Until this weekend.

I went to let the Thor (yes, his name is back to Thor because Zak could not remember 'Trooper' and Anna kept messing it up and calling him 'Pooper' - so we decided to go back to Thor...).  I turned on the light to the porch and there sitting right there by the front door was an dead opossum.  Ugly creature it was.  Laying there dead - mouth open - looking quite dead.  My first thought was - how are we going to get him off the porch.  My second thought was,  "R-O-B!" 

I soon had a companion beside me looking out the window at the creature.  It was Rob who noticed it first.  "He's still breathing..."

Suddenly I was a little girl again, laying in bed, very very still trying to fool my Dad and I heard his words echo in my mind.  "Someone is playing possum..."  And, I wondered if this is how it  really  works. 

Perhaps I am still a city girl and so something like this is still very big to me.   Perhaps I am a home school Mom that tires to make everything a learning experience.     Perhaps I am just crazy; but.... I just *had* to get the kids up to see this.  I left the Littles sleeping; but the older kids were fetched and told to come and see what Thor had done.



We all stood in the windows and watched the 'dead' breathing opossum as it lay there and wondered, "Is it dying?"  There was talk about perhaps we were witnessing a slow death and internal bleeding was causing the death to be long and painful.  Then there were wagers as to how much blood he would throw up when the bleeding finally did him in.  He looked pitiful and full of pain.  Someone said they felt sorry for him having to 'suffer' this way.

Still I kept wondering if I was witnessing what my Dad had told me about years ago.  Could something that looked so hurt, so dead,  just be playing?

We decided to call Thor into the house.  (Through the back door.  I had visions of a rodent getting into the house and causing quite a scene; and I also knew that was a possibility - it was after all, Saturday night.)  Thor came running in through the back door and was eager for a treat.  He was so proud of himself.  Treats were given and the watch continued.

It did not take long.  A minute - perhaps two.  It seemed as soon as the creature was aware that the big black dog was gone from the porch he twitched his ears, raised himself up on all fours and walked down the steps of the porch like he owned the place.

I was amazed.  I wanted to call my Dad in the middle of the night and tell him it was true.  They really do play dead when they are threatened!  I tried to think of an object lesson to tell the kids - something about Satan and his deceitful ways; but nothing came to mind.  I was tired.  I gave Thor another treat and told him how much of a good dog he was to keep us safe from the danger of the opossum.  (I just did not have the heart to tell him he had been fooled.)  I turned out the lights and headed for bed; hoping the dead opossum thoughts would stay here on the porch and not enter my dreams through the night.

Trust you had a wonderful weekend. 

Loving the Country Life,
~Martie

2 comments:

Rachel said...

So interesting. and, of course, it was Saturday night!:) I hope you slept well! :)

Sarah_Braswell_Baker said...

Wow! I really enjoyed your story! It's like reading an excerpt out of a book and actually KNOWING the characters involved and the setting/location too! :) Keep writing!