My mother-in-law became a widow the day we moved into the Haney Place. She was in her late 70's at the time. She remained in "Doc's" childhood home for a few years after his father passed away. She ended up selling the house and moving into some duplex's nearby and eventually into the Haney Place when we built. She had problems with her vision. Oh heck, she was legally blind. It was quite a struggle to get her to give up driving, she thought she was okay because she could still see shapes and shadows!
At any rate, as her macular degeneration got worse over the years, we (the kids and I) ended up doing more and more for her. Simple things like threading a needle. I would send the Blonde to thread several of them for her in a variety of colors. My mother-in-law loved birds. We gave her some finches in a cage. I would frequently get calls to come and help her because somehow they got out of the cage. You know before I even say it that those calls always came at the most inconvenient times! Often I would get to the Haney Place (which is a quarter mile down the driveway from our house and the birds would be in the cage, she just couldn't see them.
But let me get back to the Great Groundhog Wars. We live in the country, there are a lot of critters like mice, squirrels and groundhogs. Groundhogs can be very damaging. They actually dug a hole near the house and into the dirt cellar of the Haney Place. Don't worry, because of her poor vision we had walled off access to the cellar so no late night groundhog encounters! Or so I thought. Interestingly enough, the calls never came when "Doc" was around. In fact they ALWAYS came when he was out of town at a conference. They went something like this:
"I need help, there is something near the dumpster, I can see it." or "The fuel tank just fell off the house and rolled down the hill." or "There is a groundhog that I have been watching, come get him." Mostly the calls were about getting the groundhogs that were annoying her. Hence - THE GREAT GROUNDHOG WARS. It was always late at night and I would send "Calvin" with a gun to save his grandmother. He would come back frustrated because nothing was ever there. She would swear to him that it was right in the yard and point to a bush. "Calvin" would identify the bush and she would get mad. After a repeat trip down there one night, I told him to just shoot something, anything! and tell her that he got it. If he didn't, we would never get any rest! We would often joke that the real groundhogs were sitting off to the side laughing or giving us all the middle finger salute.
We got the ultimate call one afternoon. There was a groundhog in the yard. My mother-in-law claimed that there was a groundhog sitting right on top of the trap she had set. I had no idea what this woman was capable of! She had actually built a Burmese Tiger Trap, you know, like what you would see in the movies. She had whittled sticks into spikes and put them into the hole that the groundhogs had dug. There was only one problem with the trap, the sticks were about a foot above the ground. The only groundhog they were going to get was a suicidal or Kamikaze groundhog that leaped into the air and plunged himself onto the sticks! We placated her and pretended to shoot the defiant animals. And yes, we are certain that they were at the edge of the woods, laughing and saluting!
Wife, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Mother, Nurse, Grandmother, Friend...that's me in a nutshell!