The Plight of the Wasp

My dad has a lot of time on his hands. This isn’t to say he doesn’t do anything – he does plenty. It’s just that this “plenty” usually occurs in his home office. He spends most of his hours putting together websites or editing video projects, but occasionally I will walk into his office to find him playing an intense game of Scrabble or Text Twist on his computer.

My dad recently took on a new project: rehabilitating an injured wasp. Don’t ask me why he chose to do this. My dad has no particular knowledge of wasps. Neither do I. All I know is this particular wasp spent at least 36 hours ramming itself into air vents in my room (which gets really obnoxious when trying to do, well, anything) before my dad took the poor thing under his care. I suppose Dad has always had a bit of an animal lover in him. After all, this is a man who once picked a stranded turtle up off the side of the road, nursed it back to health and released it at a nature conservatory. He repeated that process again a few years later with an opossum that my mother found growling at her from inside a trash can. Caring about animals is nothing new for my dad, but why exactly his heart went out to a bloodthirsty wasp? – That I will never know.

I may not understand my dad’s connection to this wasp, but it got me thinking about something. Toward the end of my grandmother’s stay with us over the holidays, she got into a difficult discussion with my mom that got me feeling a bit sad. They tried to make some sort of plan for when my grandmother can no longer take care of herself. What kind of place are they going to send her to? How much help will she need? Will she stay in Tennessee where she lives now, or will my mom want to bring her closer to our home in Georgia? I can’t say I was completely ready for that kind of discussion. My grandmother has always been around and has always been mostly vital. Not until the past few years has she had to hook herself up to an oxygen machine at night or walk around with a cane. I still remember when she used to play tennis with my parents. It’s really difficult for me to see her slowly lose her ability to get around, and I think about how frightening it is for her.

Perhaps that wasp serves as a counterpoint to my grandmother. A wasp’s needs, at least according to my dad’s intuition, are very simple. Set it on a piece of paper under the light so it stays warm. Feed it with honey. Applaud enthusiastically when it builds up enough energy to fly around the room. Simple. Humans are not as easy to take care of. Sure, there are essentials like food, water, and shelter that are straightforward and manageable, but what about the emotional and psychological journey? There’s no way to fix a bout of depression with a few spoonfuls of honey. It takes work – sometimes more than a person is capable of. No matter how much love you have in your heart and how hard you are willing to work, there are some human journeys that we cannot fix. All we can do is make the ride more comfortable.

In the end, that’s what my dad did for that wasp. Instead of putting it out in the cold and letting the thing freeze to death, as I might have done, my father killed the fatted calf for this wasp. It expired under a luxurious heating lamp with a stomach full of honey. If only we could all be so lucky.

    • Hobo Joe
    • January 12th, 2010

    If you wrote a book, i would read it.

    • Muv
    • January 16th, 2010

    The Plight of the Wasp is absolutely a wonderful understand of the “growing older process”. It is a bit sad to give up some of the things you have so enjoyed, but one gains an appreciation of the experiences life has offered. I am so thankful for having God and a wonderful and loving family in my life. I wish this for everyone. And, yes, I want to be as lucky as that little wasp. Thank you, grandson, for sharing this with me….I’ll also read you book!!…….muv

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