Arreba, the person behind ReRe Sandalwood, writes about a recent encounter her dad had with the common house hold mouse. Considered a pest by many, Arreba contends that it is still important to acknowledge that they, too possess a will to live. In the same vein, Arreba also contends that all living beings must eventually die…either as contributors of the food chain, or for an array of other reasons…
Sometimes, it takes a reminder from your own child that all living beings have an innate desire to live.
While my son reminds me of this every day, I never anticipated that I would be in a position where I would have to remind my father that, no matter how minuscule we perceive a life to be, nature will rise up and give us a swift reminder that all life matters, and all life forms will do whatever it takes to fight for survival.
To elaborate, my dad called me approximately a month ago. While I talk to my father every day, this particular call was a bit different because he was a bit perturbed and frustrated. “Alicia…” he said, “I woke up this morning, and heard some rustling in my bedroom closet…when I opened the door, a mouse jumped out…”
He then told me that he initially thought he was hallucinating…until ANOTHER mouse jumped out of the closet and began to chase after the one that came out prior. Shocked, but determined to regain control of a seemingly chaotic situation, Dad yelled out, “HEY! Where are y’all going?!”
To my Dad’s shock, both mice looked back at him as if they were going to respond to his question. Then, after the initial, 30 second standoff, they continued to chase one another as if they were participating in a gleeful game of Cat and Mouse, chittering in excitement while my Dad looked on.
By the time Dad got out into the hallway, the mice were gone. Though he was a bit stunned by their disappearance, it was then that he realized he was hungry. Remembering that he had a box of Corn Flakes on his kitchen counter, he headed toward it, then grabbed it…only to realize that the mice had literally CHEWED through the Corn Flakes box!
Before calling me, Dad inspected the box, and noticed that the mice only left a few Corn Flakes crumbs behind. They had also left some mice droppings in the box, so Dad knew right away that his Corn Flakes were history.
That’s when he threw the box in the trash and called me.
Once he told me what happened, he let me know that he was not going to take this lying down. “I am getting some poison JUST FOR THEM! They going DOWN!”
Alarmed, I told my Dad that he should reconsider poisoning them because poisoning them can be quite cumbersome. “Dad, they will die, but will also suffer A LOT before they die! Do you really want that on your conscious?”
That is when he kind of went in on me. “Look, I don’t care if they suffer! They need to die…”
I then said, “Well, besides their suffering, what if one of them dies in the walls and you can’t reach the body? Trust me, you don’t want that cause they really stink when they are dead…”
After reiterating that he could care less, I again tried to remind him about how potentially unsanitary a poisoned mouse’s death can be. “Dad, I am telling you, what if you have a hard time find the bodies? That smell, the rotting….naw, Dad you don’t want that….”
He voiced his determination again, so I decided to let it go at that point. After all, he can be quite stubborn, and there really is no point in trying to convince him otherwise.
Dad Gives Me A Mouse Update…
Just when I was on the verge of forgetting about my Dad’s mice problem, he called me about two weeks later. “Alicia…” he said, “I put out the rat poison…to entice them to eat it, I mixed it in with a bowl of Corn Flakes, then put the stuff on the kitchen counter…you know I hear them eating the stuff almost every day and I am wondering if they are going to die…”
Shaking my head, I said, “Maybe there are more than two in your house…that is why it is taking a while…”
Just when I was going to elaborate, Dad said, “They even got the nerve to be finicky! You know they ate all my banana candy too? Then, they have the nerve to leave the Corn Flakes behind and take the poison! I broke the poison up in little pieces too….”
All I heard was silence on the other end, so I made up an excuse to get off the phone. Dad, in his usual Dad way, quickly hung up, and left me to shake my head in laughter.
Dad Has A Confusing, Mouse-Related Triumph
Three weeks later, I received another update on my Dad’s mouse dilemma, but it was not the update I had expected. When Dad called, his voice sounded a bit shaken, so I asked him what was wrong.
“You know one of the mice tried to step to me this morning, right?”
Confused, I said “What? I thought you put out the poison to kill them….”
“I did! The mouse was dying, but made a point to come out into the living room and glare at me…it was breathing and squeaking really loud…then the squeaks began to get quieter and quieter, but it never took its eyes off of me!”
I was not surprised, so I said, “Dad, all living beings have a desire to live. It is quite possible that the mouse KNEW you had poisoned it, and wanted to take one last stand…”
“Yeah, it knew I poisoned it, and wanted me to watch it die…”
“Dad, I warned you about that poison…I told you it was inhumane and that it causes them to suffer…”
“But that mouse looked so betrayed! I think it thought we were boys or something cause of the way I mixed the poison in with the Corn Flakes! They thought that I had made them into my personal pets…”
I really wanted to laugh, but I didn’t. Instead, I told him that mice behave like that, and told him about the time I saw about twelve mice gathered together in a circle on Old Colony Avenue. I continued, “They were right by the bridge, too…in the middle of winter, squeaking away, talking to each other! I even rolled Avery’s stroller over them and they ain’t even budge….they think they got rights…”
My dad said, “Yeah, they communicate with each other…”
“Of course they do! And they love to play, too….I saw a rat frolicking in the grass, right across the street from the beach…they are genuinely happy creatures, but contrary to what the fairy tales say, they don’t go around cleaning houses and sewing up clothes…”
I continued, “But Dad, you need to get more humane traps for them…that way you will know where the body is located, and you will kill them swiftly…”
“Yeah you should…all life is precious, and we have to do our part to treat things in a humane way…even mice…”
Still shaken, Dad reiterated that he could not believe how the mouse fronted him off. I listened, and said nothing…
All Living Beings Want To Live
It should not surprise any of us that, like the mice that were freeloading at my Dad’s house, all creatures have a desire to live. No matter how insignificant we consider a life to be, it is very important to remember that because it is a reminder to not waste the life we have. It is also a great reminder because, even in our consumption of Turkey and other meats, fruits and vegetables during this holiday season, it is very important to give thanks to the lives that were taken as a means for us to celebrate and commune with one another.
In fact, the concept of paying homage to the lives that enable us to feast is not a new concept; in fact, many Native American tribes believe in this idea, and would often put their beliefs into practice by thanking the dying animal that they slaughtered, and by also using ALL parts of its remains to feed, clothe and shelter their family and fellow tribe members. In this sense, it is also important to not waste what is afforded to all of us this holiday season, and to remember that in our celebrating, that the lives of animals are the very ones that have afforded us the opportunity to bond with our families and other brethren.