I was with the plumber in the basement at Mom and Dad‘s house when I heard a scratching sound coming from the dryer. Somehow, I immediately knew it was a chipmunk. I think he came in through the dryer vent. The plumber agreed. We had a chipmunk in the dryer.

I asked the plumber if he could help me get the chipmunk out. He said he would. But he didn’t.

In my lifetime my dad was Mr. Fix It. So, the next day I asked Dad for help. We went to the basement and he turned on the dryer. There was a clunk. I told Dad. “I think the chipmunk is near the fan. Turning on the dryer may kill it.” But Dad turned the dryer on again. There was another clunk. I couldn’t get him to understand that turning on the dryer wasn’t helping so I shepherded him back upstairs.

I could tell Dad wasn’t tracking our conversation very well and he didn’t know how to solve the problem. I was incredibly overwhelmed and Dad’s behavior was just making it worse. At that moment I was so sad that the father I knew was no longer there. And I was frustrated that I still had a chipmunk in the dryer. Why was this my problem? What was I going to do? What professional can I call and how long will I have to wait around for them to come? I spent some time crying. This moment was just another reminder of how much my dad was changing. I was losing him.

I called my sister to ask for help. I knew we needed to take the back off the dryer. It didn’t seem like something I could handle alone. My sister promised to help.

By day four I could tell the chipmunk was sick or dead and had started to stink. I reached out to my sister again. She came the following day. We consulted YouTube. We took the back off the dryer. I reached in with a bag and gathered up the dead chipmunk.

When I took on parent care, I didn’t realize how much of it would involve home maintenance and dead animals. In that year alone I had to remove the chipmunk, a dead squirrel from the sidewalk, and one injured opossum. All while grieving the loss of my brilliant parents as they became a little less of the people I so proudly remember.

 

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