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I picked a tick off one of the dogs earlier.

June 19, 2012

The other day Daddy spotted a tick crawling up Mother’s arm, pinched it between his fingers and flung it in the toilet.

“I picked a tick off one of the dogs earlier,” he notified Mother hours later.

“That was me!” she huffed.

“Oh yeah.”

Ticks often attached themselves to my childhood outdoor dog Daisy. I took strange pleasure in plucking the fat gray orbs from Daisy’s eyebrows and ears, and tossing them into a red Solo cup of gasoline. I would rake my fingers through Daisy’s fur for hours, eyes flashing when I found a dime-sized blob beneath her neck or even bigger ones on her underside, poised to burst. At some point we transitioned to flushing ticks down the commode, perhaps when Mother started allowing the dogs inside. Timber went through a phase of cutting their legs off one by one with Mother’s fabric scissors, leaving them appendage-less and idle.

In the summers Timber and I spent most of our free time outside. Upon our return indoors, we stripped in the bathroom and checked for ticks, most often finding them sprawling across our underwear, wriggling down our thighs or burrowing into our hair. I watched with wonder while I flipped up the toilet seat and dropped them to their deaths.

Mother relayed the tick story when I visited home this weekend. At first I brainstormed grandiose ideas to make it the most epic Father’s Day yet – a day trip to Dahlonega; trout fishing on Noontootla Creek; all-expense-paid potty training for Winston, my parents’ bladder-challenged Scottish terrier. But upon reflection I’m glad we spent our time at the house. Daddy and I sat on the front steps and threw the squeaking elephant toy to the dogs; I don’t think we bonded like that since our tick gassing days. Mother paraded me around the yard to show me the latest flowerbed additions. Plus, Mother, Daddy and I ate three meals together at the dining room table.

We would have gone to church, but a nest of yellow jackets attacked Mother around 9:30 on Sunday morning.

I sat on the porch talking to Timber on the phone when I heard Mother screaming.

“Hold on, Timber. Mother’s screaming,” I cut her off. “Just a second.”

I tore around the house hollering “MOTHER!!! MOTHER!!! MOTHER!!!” until I realized the shrieks were reverberating from inside. I found Mother running in place at the kitchen sink, holding her hands under cold running water. Apparently some deer had uprooted one of her hostas, so she bent down to re-plant it, only to agitate the swarm of yellow jackets who had built a nest underground. Per her swollen hands, itchy feet and dizziness, I raced her to the emergency room. We sat in the Gordon Hospital parking lot long enough to ensure she wasn’t going into anaphylactic shock, to excessively Google “yellow jacket stings” and to miss church.

“Thanks for getting attacked by yellow jackets!” I clapped. “I didn’t want to go to church.”

“You’re welcome,” Mother sighed, resting her hands between layers of cold packs.

Daddy eats his first Father's Day hot dog.

Daddy eats his first Father’s Day hot dog.

Hot dogs comprised the main course for Father’s Day lunch, of course.

“You can never have too many hot dawgs,” Daddy noted while taking his first mustard-covered bite.

I started feeling sick when I unpinned the “Happy Father’s Day” banner from the hearth, where we also displayed Daddy’s gifts – an iPad cover from me and from Mother, a couple brightly colored polos.

“Do you remember picking that one out?” Mother asked as he held the blinding aqua and orange stripes against his chest.

“Nuh uh. I’ve got memory problems, you know.”

“Well what about that one?” Mother asked when he pulled a black shirt with rainbow stripes out of its box.

“Nuh uh. I’ve got memory problems.”

I managed to laugh all weekend until I had to leave for Atlanta. Daddy had retreated to bed for his now daily afternoon nap. I threw myself on him and sobbed.

“Oh!! Goodness,” he muttered, hugging me the longest he ever has before gently pushing me away. As I drove down the driveway, coasted past dilapidated barns and sullen pastures, and eased onto Interstate 75, my nausea slowly subsided.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Timber permalink
    June 20, 2012 9:24 am

    Bobbin. I ripped the ticks legs off with my hands. Sometimes I would then cut them in half longitudinally with my fingernail clippers and deposit them in the toilet afterwards. Such is my intense hatred for ticks. Gross!

    I wish I could have been there for father’s day! We’ll have to recreate that weekend sometime in the near future when I can actually be in attendance.

  2. June 20, 2012 9:29 am

    Oh yeah, you’re right. How could I forget such a warm and fuzzy memory?! It’s going to be so rad when you finish school! Obi in particular is anxious for you to be done.

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