Thursday, August 18, 2011

I have given a name to my pain, and it is Batman.

I'm home at my parents' house this week, helping out as my dad recovers from surgery.
It's only been one night & it's already been a ride from hell. Allow me to explain.

My dad lost a leg in a brutal ambush in Vietnam. Almost all of his SEAL platoon was killed in the attack. My dad's left leg was blown off and his right was so badly burned that they weren't sure they would even be able to save that one. Nearly forty years of one leg taking the burden for two had bowed his leg and destroyed his knee. He went to his doctor for a knee surgery, but the doctor wouldn't do it because the leg was so badly scarred and still full of shrapnel. At which point my dad announced to his family that he wouldn't rest until he found someone who would do the surgery, which incited fears of him going to some quack south of the border who replaces kneecaps with avocado pits or whatnot.

But he found a very legit and highly recommended orthopedic surgeon at the Syracuse VA Hospital to do his surgery. He passed all the vascular tests and it was scheduled. (A main worry had been that he would throw a clot and stroke, due to possible vascular damage to the leg.)

My sister and I talked and divided up the family duty: she got pre-op and I got post-op. Kate went to the hospital with them, waited around with my mom and shuttled her between the hospital and the hotel where she was staying. I elected to drive them home after he was discharged and stay at their house for a couple of days to help out. I think she got the easy end of the bargain.

Yesterday morning, Brett drove me up to Syracuse and dropped me off at the hospital where I met up with my mom and my very agitated dad. He'd spent nine days in a hospital with excellent surgical, physical therapy and nursing care, but which was not exactly a paragon of cleanliness and hospitality. He'd shared a room with 2 other guys, shielded by a curtain that didn't completely block out the fluorescent light from the hallway. My dad is not a patient man to begin with; his hospital stay had frayed his nerves. He was rather brusque and curt as we loaded him into the car and began the three-hour drive home. It was a beautiful day and the scenery and the calmness my mom and I were struggling to project started to calm him down.

We got him home, settled him in a chair to nap, and I went out to get groceries to make dinner. I put the rosemary chicken with roasted vegetables in the oven and went out to the porch room to chat with my folks. Wasn't there but five minutes when my dad muttered, "Was that a big bat that just flew by?"
"Yep. SH!T!"

My mother, who is terrified of bats, ran outside with their dog, Jack. I had to do recon. I went into the basement and checked around, no sign of him there, but while I was there, I spotted my old hockey stick and grabbed it. Upstairs, the first floor rooms were deemed clear. My mother shouted from the sidewalk out front, "Get the tennis racket in your father's closet!"  In my father's closet, all I could find was a ping pong paddle. I ran back out with it. "THIS is what you call a tennis racket?"

"It worked before!"
Oh hell.

While I was in there, looking at the ping pong paddle in my hand, I scanned the room and deemed it clear, so I closed the door and moved on.

The room I was staying in, my sister's former room, was clear, so I shut that door.

Bathroom, clear.

Office, clear.

Which left my brother's old room (known as the "Hobo Room" because my mom was storing stuff in piles and heaps in there) and the third floor attic loft, my former bedroom and now my brother's room. I peeked into the Hobo Room and saw an enormous black bat circling the ceiling fan. Kevin had been in bed, taking a nap, just a few feet below the bat.

I quietly called out, "Kevin?"

He said, "Kerry! I'm scared!"

"I know. You listen to me, okay? Slide out of bed to the floor and crawl over to the door. Close it when you're out. Okay?"


He ran past where I was crouched in the hall and shut himself up safely in the bathroom.

(Disclaimer: I was not aware that my brother is the assigned bat-slayer in my parents' house and has regularly dispatched several bats. Needless to say, I was ticked to find out that he abandoned me and left me the job.)

I ran back down to my dad and told him I had the bat secured in the Hobo Room.
"Okay, good," he nodded. "Now take these toy butterfly nets and catch it."


"Turn off the ceiling fan, sit on the bed, wait it for it to come to you, and catch it in the net."

Excuse me. I did not sign up for this.

But I had to, because my dad had just gotten out of the hospital, he still has the stitches in his knee and was weak from the travel.

I put my hair up under a baseball hat and went upstairs.

I just could not bring myself to sit on the bed and wait for the bat to come within two feet of me. I tried. I managed to get the fan turned off. I've since requested a pith helmet and full-length safari jumpsuit for future endeavors as I feel if I had the proper uniform and equipment, I might have been more successful. In past bat operations, I've been more than willing to wield a large stick and help smack it along its way outside. (My crowning glory was a line drive hit to a bat with my mom's ceiling fan duster, in my underwear, without my glasses or contacts, at about 4am. Knocked that sucker right out the door onto the porch.)

As it stands, my dad had to come upstairs and sequester himself to take care of the situation. And it turns out, he wasn't able to catch the beast in the toy butterfly net, nor shoo it out the open window. He knocked it out of the air with one of his crutches and killed it. I was summoned (with gloves) to come dispose of the body.

An enormous glass of wine was required after this.

It's only day one. By day five, I may be crouched in the bottom of a closet, muttering inanities to myself in a language I created that only I know.

I'll keep you all updated.


  1. holy CATS KERRY you kick ASS! I don't think I could chase a bat like that! best wishes to your dad!

  2. Your Dad is pretty much a bad ass, huh!? Killing bats with his crutches post-surgery? Whoa.