My dad is a “let me live free or to hell with you” kind of a guy. He’s a rugged guy. A beware of dog guy. A meet-my-daughter’s-prom-date-at-the-door-with-a-rifle kind of a guy. Actually, I take it back. He’s not a beware of dog kind of guy. He’s a “your fault if you get bit” kind of a guy. If he weren’t also a no labels kind of guy, he’d probably have a political affiliation that transcended GET OFF MY LAWN (or I’ll shoot).

arizona-dont-tread-on-me-flag(Arizona’s Dad Flag)

Apparently, he’s also the kind of guy who REALLY doesn’t want woodchucks on his property. Which led us to Sunday supper on the deck with a sharp eye to the corner behind the former chicken coop. The woodchuck was sighted several times but could never be spied in enough time. The rifles loaded with unknown ordinance stayed propped by the high-traffic screen door. Did you know my daughter is just a bit taller than a rifle?

RR is apparently quite accustomed to having a grandfather of this particular type as, during dessert (ice cream and eat your feelings forever chocolate cake), she dispassionately watched my dad calmly arise, take hold of a weapon, and fire at the woodchuck. After the crack and harumph of failure, she shook her head and said, with a somewhat rueful smile, “Oh, Pop-Pop” as if he were a doddering distant relation who you are particularly fond of but would not bring out to dinner.

My wife was noticeably pale throughout the entire visit. My mother oblivious to our gaping discomfort. If you think about it though, this captures this moment in time perfectly. My unflappable daughter and her family, somehow coping with the humid, hot, surreal summer and a man with brain cancer wielding weapons.

No doubt, dear reader, I lost you at either a) imminent woodchuck death; b) rifle placement; c) unflappable children; or d) all of the above. Perhaps you are simmering or chuckling. Rest assured that we felt all the same things and took precautions.

12 Responses

  1. My grandfather also hated woodchucks. Two particular battles are worth noting.

    1. Bear-claw traps. Resulted in the woodchuck trampling a circle of tomato plants of radius one foot, after said woodchuck got his testicles caught in the trap but nothing else. Other woodchuck learned their lesson from him (RIP, poor guy, no one deserves to go out that way) and no longer sat down in any part of the garden.

    2. Explosion. My grandfather poured engine oil, cooking grease, kerosene, gasoline, and Christ knows what else down the entrance of the woodchuck warren, which happened to be on the hillside that was between his garden (top of the hill) and his house (bottom of the hill). The resulting explosion blew part of the hillside off, broke a few windows, and knocked my grandfather ass over ears. We never saw any other woodchucks after that.

    RR will be fine – in addition to surviving my grandfather, my dad used to dynamite beaver dams on the farm and tell me all about seeing Bucky Beaver, Mrs. Beaver, and their five children fly through the air, stuffing cotton in their ears from the sound of their home being destroyed by a megalomaniacal asshole (my dad). I’m not too much the worse for wear for such a childhood.

  2. Made me laugh!!!!

  3. I am one of the ones laughing. Thank you so much for your blog. I am a faithful reader. I am praying for your father. Spend as much time as you can stand with him. Ask him questions. There are things I want to ask my mom but can’t. She passed in 2007. She took the answers with her. I am in hospice home and I have thought about writing for my daughter and 3 grandchildren to read after I am gone. What do you think? How do I start? Please write soon. I love reading your work.

  4. kind of a long, slow guffaw, if that’s possible, a deep laugh. I love your unflappable kid. Nice job there, the brain cancer thing as a punch line. You gotta, right? Laugh or cry, both . . . thanks, and best of luck with Dad. It’ll be a sad day if you really do have to get rid of the guns.

  5. RR sounds wise beyond her years here.

  6. Her reaction is priceless. My FIL is a similar sort. He waged war on the gophers at their house by attaching a hose to his truck’s exhaust and shoving the other end down a gopher hole. Someday, I imagine Charlotte will be as unphased by his antics!

  7. I’m right there with ya, my FIL is quite similar to your dad. I’m glad everyone survived the weekend ok (except perhaps the woodchucks).

  8. My husband may or may not be similar in his reaction to the squirrels on our property. There are (as of yet) no firearms involved, but you never know….

  9. Umm, I love your dad, and RR is so awesome!

  10. It sounds like the kind of situation in which you simultaneously want to laugh and have a full blown panic attack at the same time. Yikes Bahahahaha omg heehee ahhhh!

    ^annnnd I now sound certifiable. Awesome.

  11. On the one hand: guns casually strewn about near young children, but on the other, that is an amazing story RR can tell forever. It reminds me of the opening scene of Hope And Glory, which I always loved. Very Eudora Welty, the “oh Pop Pop..”

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