This story was originally posted in Fall, 2013 on my former blog called, Sundays with Dad. It had nothing to do with my dad. I was beginning to branch out a little. Here’s to you, Tappy…
“We have a problem,” I hear my husband say from the kitchen as I walk in the front door of our house. It’s an early fall Saturday afternoon and I’ve just returned from a walk in the ravines with our dog, Sam.
“What now?” I ask not wanting to know, as I unsnap Sam’s leash.
“Rose (our cat) caught a baby mouse and it’s laying on the patio, kind of fidgeting.” He says. “It looks shocked but it’s still alive.”
“Well, go kill it.” I tell him.
“You kill it!”
Todd heads back outside to work in the yard. I Google How to feed a baby mouse where I am introduced to Stuart on YouTube, and his friend Matilda. He is a big white mouse with pink eyes, and Matilda is grey and smaller than the size of the quarter that has been placed beside her for effect. She’s nuzzling up to Stuart and he’s being very patient. This reminds me of Sam and Rose. My heart melts.
“Wait!” I yell out to Todd. “Come here! Look at this! They’re feeding this little speck of a mouse some kitten formula with a tiny brush and she’s lapping it up.”
“I don’t want to see it.”
“Seriously, come and look. They’ve put the little guy in a shoebox and punched holes in the lid so it can breathe.”
“We don’t have a shoebox,” I hear him grumble under his breath.
“Yes, we do. I’ll go get it. You get the mouse.”
I go for the shoebox, and also grab a roll of unscented toilet paper, like the video recommended, and start tearing tissue. Todd returns with the mouse.
“Is it bleeding?” I don’t really want to know.
“Put it in the box. I’m going to the store for kitten formula.” I start to panic. Where do I get kitten formula? CVS. Hurry! I say to myself. “We have to save the mouse!” I say out loud.
I return with a bottle of baby formula and a little syringe. We give it a go, but can’t get the mouse to take the syringe, so I run back upstairs in search of an eye liner brush.
“We should name him,” I stop at the top of the stairs.
Todd suggests Willie, but that reminds me of my dad whose name is William. I don’t want to name the mouse after my dad.
“How about Tappy?” Tappy reminds me of Danceworks, the place where I work. We need a Danceworks mouse. I get excited thinking about having a pet mouse at work and am certain everyone will take to him like I have—except Elyse. She’s allergic.
“Sure,” Todd says about the name.
Tappy eats from the brush out of Todd’s hand just like on YouTube. I can’t believe my heart is bursting over a mouse.
We put him in the bathroom for the night with the lid of the box held open by a chopstick—-so he doesn’t get claustrophobic?—and shut the door to keep Rose out.
We both dream of mice.
I wake up the next morning with a sore throat and fever. Todd informs me Tappy is gone. I think he’s teasing. How could it just disappear? There’s no way it could climb out of the box and get down from the sink. Then, it occurs to me that Rose could have bounced the door open, gotten in and eaten him. I’m heartsick and I can see Todd is not taking it well either.
Todd leaves for work, leaving me alone in bed with orange juice, the mouse killer Rose, and Sam. Rose is being incredibly affectionate, cuddling up and massaging my arm. I try to ignore the fact that she’s digesting a mouse and fall asleep.
I wake up just in time to see her dash towards the big red chair next to our bedroom window. I jump up and see her take a bat at Tappy. Then, tucking her paws neatly beneath her, she sits and glares at the mouse because that’s what cats do. I discreetly reach out and grab Rose as Tappy lies on his back with his feet in the air.
I lock Rose in the bathroom, grab the box and return to find Tappy back right-side up. I pick him up with a piece of toilet paper, put him back in his box and take him outside, thinking he might do well with a little fresh air.
The sun is bright and I sit down beside him. He plays dead for about two minutes as I sing to him. Suddenly, he scratches his ear, opens his eyes and stares up at me. “Tappy!” I say. I’m overjoyed.
I call Todd to see if he thinks I should let him go and he says Tappy probably won’t make it on his own yet, so I head back inside with the mouse in the box.
That evening, Todd brings home some of his leftover Pakistani rice from lunch for Tappy. He holds the tiny creature in his hand and feeds him more formula. “He was doing much better last night,” he says.
“Maybe he doesn’t like spicy.” I say. “I’m sure he’s going to be okay.” After all, Tappy scaled a wall, survived a great fall, and escaped Rose. Twice! He’s already on his third life. He’s a remarkable mouse.
I share the mouse video we made on my phone with the ladies at work the next day and make plans to buy him a cage and a wheel.
After work the day following, I call Todd on my way home and before I can tell him I’m on my way to Pet Smart he says, “Tappy passed.”
I immediately burst into tears, and am shocked at the level of my emotion over a mouse. I call my co-worker, Amy the Tap dancer, who inspired Tappy’s name. There’s something so happy about people who tap. I thought a happy name and an organizational affiliation could save a mouse.
Amy listens to my Tappy story.
At work the next morning, the ladies ask about Tappy and we’re all a little sad together.
Todd helps me bury Tappy under our Bleeding Heart bush in the backyard. I wrap the mouse in a tissue and lay him inside a bloom from our Peace Plant. It seems appropriate.
Todd digs a hole and I place Tappy in it. When I start to sing, “Kumbaya My Lord”, we both crack up.
Rest in peace little Tappy.
Poor, poor Tappy! ? What a wonderful story you weave, dear Deb!!
Absolutely precious! At the very end when you and Todd laughed together, the tension was broken, the perspective was balanced and I could only think how blessed Tappy was to have those last few hours of love. (I gotta admit my eyes were spilling over too.)
So well told, so beautifully lived.
Aww, thank you Sarah.
Thank you, Lynn?