Dad’s Respect for All Living Creatures…
Today’s story is from Val Padar.
Has it happened to you?
A moving blur darts out in front of the car.
A sickening thud…your heart jumps to your throat. Your stomach tightens, sours and churns.
It happened to Sandor. He was my dad.
He screeched to a halt and jumped out of the car. He hoped he was wrong, but learned he was right. A possum lie stretched on the side of the road. My father hated to see a creature of nature die this way. He thought, “Was it dead or could it be stunned?”
Dad knew these cagey critters are known to feign death in times of great stress. It’s how they outfox their prey. He lifted the possum into a cardboard box he kept in the trunk. He looked at it closely and guessed it was just stunned.
Dad was a pipe fitter in suburban Cleveland, Ohio. His father had been a backcountry Kentucky miner. He had grown up wandering the mountains.
Dad loved nature and found us a home that backed to a grove next to the woods.
It was like a nature preserve. Muskrats scampered and splashed in the creek. He taught us everything rugged county kids should know. How to shoot straight. What plants to eat to survive. How to catch, then clean and cook fish. You might say my dad was a pipe fitting, Kentucky mountain man.
So, what did he do with that “playin’ dead” possum? He brought it home for us to observe for a very brief time.
He wanted us to see its habits, and to understand that this possum lived a life quite different from ours.
In our large hallway closet, he gently shook it out of the box. We were entranced. What would it do?” The possum rambled into the corner, turned its head up and looked up at us. We oohed, awed and stared with wide eyes.
I now reflect back 40 years to that remarkable night. It was a moment that impacted the rest of my life. How dad respected that small, innocent creature.
I suddenly realized that my father respected every creature, wild or tame, human or not. What they were. What they believed. Their right to live their special life.
When I am tempted to criticize or think less of others dissimilar to me, I remember those ringed black eyes looking up, just wanting to “be.”
A special thank you to Val Padar for allowing us to tell this 40 year-ago story of her life lesson from dad. Val was just nine at the time. She tells us that her dad respected and loved nature, and all living things. He wanted Val to feel the same.