I left the hospice around two o'clock that afternoon. My sister-in-law gave me a ride back to my Dad's place so I could take a shower and change my clothes. I'd been wearing these clothes since we left Clinton, Oklahoma the morning before. She dropped me off to freshen up while she went and got a Starbucks coffee for herself and a bucket of diet coke for me.
Naturally a call was fielded from the "main office" before I jumped in the shower. I put my foot down early in the conversation; time was of the essence~I needed to get back ASAP. Mom was excited to have all the kids in town and was wondering when we could get together for dinner. I had no answer. "What", she asked, "you aren't going to come see your Maw?".
I told her I planned to stay in town until further notice. Just two days ago our plan was to come in for a quick weekend. After last night's revelations, I think we all secretly signed a pact to stick around for the long haul. My kids were fine at home--my husband was off work until further notice~I'm sure they'd figure things out on their own for the first time~and if they didn't, I wasn't going to worry~I had much bigger fish to fry. While I'd love to get together for an impromptu dinner party, I told Mom for the time being I would be at the hospital.
My plan was to head back to the hospital and spend the night again. Maybe tonight "Stormin' Norman" would let me sit in the chair next to the bed. He wouldn't let me last night, said Dad needed his rest, and me sitting there distracting him wasn't going to help that happen. If I was really lucky, Norm might have tonight off~then I could sit and pass the time telling him "stories"...he'd been jonesing for a good "story" for months. Mom gasped. "Oh, please don't...you know he retells those and then I'll get in trouble". "Just promise me you won't tell him anything I told you~he'll tell your sister." Ah, Mom, please~he's not telling anyone, anything, anymore. I hung up and got myself ready for the return trip to Scottsdale.
Dad had been begging for a story for over a year. No one loved trouble more than Dad...and, he made hearing stories and repeating them a sport. Trouble came when he retold the story to the person the story was about. Needless to say, Dad was cut off from all information years ago. I told him if he didn't know how to behave, he wasn't being invited to play anymore. I reasoned that I found enough trouble on my own, I certainly didn't need him helping it find me.
Now that I knew our "stories" were going no further~I had a doozy. The Family Fullcharge had roof rats...and if Mrs. Fullcharge ever got wind of it, she'd leave. Imagine, for a minute, Mrs. Fullcharge unaware of anything, let alone the goings-on atop her roof. I heard the story originally last fall. My mom spends the summers in Chicago with me; the winters in Phoenix with the Family Fullcharge. During her first few nights back in Arizona, my niece was complaining at dinner about "those branches" scratching on the roof above her bedroom. She asked her dad to please cut them again like he did last month.
My mother, aka "Main Office" is also known as "Inspector Double-clutch", as she's never met a mystery she didn't get to the bottom of. The mere suggestion of tree branches actually growing back in a month had the inspector puzzled, and she wasted no time with the questioning of the major suspects. She cornered Mr. Fullcharge at the dishwasher after dinner.
He didn't even try to dupe her ~ he's no fool...spotting liars is one of her superpowers. He quickly confirmed her suspicions. Thanks to the fruit trees, their home is suseptible to mice. Mr. Fullcharge thought maybe one was above the kid's room in the attic. He'd go up and check in the morning...but in the meantime, he didn't want the kid or the Missus to get wind of it.
Double-clutch and Mr. Fullcharge both knew full well the gal in charge was deathly afraid of rodents...news of a mouse would have her bags packed and her out the door for sure, and there was no way she'd even leave a forwarding address. And, for the record, Mom was right--if he were able, Dad would have told her as soon as the story was told to him~he'd been looking for a reason for her to leave ever since the falling-out he had with her husband years ago. Had I shared this little bit of info, I know exactly what my Dad would do with this little "story".
He'd innocently invite his oldest daughter to lunch. After they were ready to order and before his second martini was delivered, he'd take a sip of the first and nonchalantly ask if she knew of an exterminating company. She, of course, would put down her gluten-free menu and look up mystified. She'd say no, she's never had a need to use one. He'd take another sip of his martini, swirl the ice cubes around in the glass before placing it back on the table, and peer at her over the tops of his readers. Then he'd merely say, "are you sure about that?" And then the fun would begin.
Now that I knew Dad wouldn't be sharing this story with anyone anytime soon, I knew just how'd I would deliver it. I'd tell Dad the backstory first--then I'd tell him about the furnace guy that came a couple days after Mr. Fullcharge confirmed the suspicion of the critter to the Inspector. Mr. Fullcharge was not at home to greet the furnace guy~he was in town for his weekly deep tissue massage. Inspector Doubleclutch was only too happy to fill in for him as official-door-opener and furnace-pointer-outer.
She mentioned to the furnace guy that they might have a critter problem in the attic~she asked them to be careful when entering, then went back to her tv program. Next thing she knew, the furnace guy was back--and he was as white as a sheet, holding his hands about a foot apart. "Lady, he said, you don't have mice, you have rats--an entire family of 'em." And, it looked as if they'd been planning a family reunion for a while based on the burrowing of the insulation.
Long story short, Mr. Fullcharge promised Doubleclutch he'd set traps and check them daily~as long as she promised not to debrief Mrs. Fullcharge regarding her new upstairs "neighbors". I, of course, was sworn to silence. My sister has a beautiful home, and when real estate was in it's prime, was worth well over a million dollars. Not to mention, it's decorated to the nines~definitely more than worthy of a shout-out in any Home and Gardens magazine spread. No wonder they had so many "critters", the first two probably got the word out in the foothills, they found themselves some "la-dee-da digs".
Word that her entire attic was infested with rats and she had no idea came as music to the ears of the gal that was living in a nine hundred square foot rental at the time...this story was explosive, hysterical, priceless, and may I tell you, it was the delicious chocolate icing on my day-old cupcake. And until today, I'd maintained my silence...I was dying to relay this to my Dad. And, tonight would be the night.