Years ago, we were spending the day in the country. It had been an awesome day – We had grilled a picnic lunch over charcoal; Pat had some nice metal-detecting finds; we had the relief of knowing that the snake Lizzy had claimed as a pet was not a copperhead; and our German Shepherd, Leroy, was having the time of his life.
Because I never knew what this kid would claim for a pet next, my heart sank a bit when Lizzy shouted, “Mom, Dad! Look what Leroy and I found!”
We ran over to where Lizzy was under the giant spruces, and she had a small mouse-like creature in her hands. It was way cuter than a mouse. It had gorgeous eyes and a rounded face. It was lost in the palm of my hand. I was stumped as to what it was, but we figured it must have fallen out of a big spruce tree.
We saw a bigger version climbing around in the trees making a chirping sound, so we decided to put the creature back up into the tree as far as my 6’ 5” husband could reach and hoped his mother would take it back despite now having Leroy-slobber on him.
We went home and started looking on the internet to see what the creature was – Pat figured out it was a baby flying squirrel. They are around but rare to see in NEPA.
At 11:30 at night, we decided to drive back up the mountain to see if this little baby squirrel was alright. I was relieved that we had gone to investigate when we discovered the little guy had fallen out of the tree and was lying on the ground, his body cold and barely moving. We decided to take him home, and after midnight we were at Walmart buying what we thought would help — a plastic fish aquarium and some non-dairy formula until we could make it to the pet store to buy something better.
We named the flying squirrel Stanley after Pat’s great-uncle who had been quite the character but had been helpful to his family. We fed him every four hours with a syringe with a special formula that I made from a recipe I found online, that included ground-up “monkey biscuits” that I had ordered from Amazon. Pat carried him around in his pocket like he was a daddy kangaroo.We had filled out paperwork to legally keep him, after calling around to see where we could take him.
Stanley loved to snuggle. He loved lying on our chests and curling up in our necks. He liked lying on the backs of our Siberian cats. Even Leroy was partial to him. Those big, soft eyes, that snubby, sweet nose, that mouth with an adorable overbite…We just loved him.
We had finally gotten Stanley’s formula just right and he was thriving. Every day on the way to school, I would drop him off at my friend’s house. Edie adored him too. She didn’t mind massaging his stomach with her thumb like his mommy would have with her tongue to aid his baby digestive system.
Stanley was doing well enough that we thought it was safe to leave him home alone in his container one day. But we were wrong. We got home to find he had injured himself. He must have got his little leg stuck in one of his toys or in the air holes on the top of his container and twisted to get out. His “wing” area was filled with blood, and he was already breathing in that shuddering way that signals death. We were all so sad. Spencer said a prayer for Stanley that included, “And no matter what happens, God, thank you that we got to meet and know Stanley.” But, soon he was gone.
When we had Stanley’s little burial, we talked about all the good that came from having Stanley. We had worked together to take care of him, and for three weeks we had all gotten along tremendously because we were focused on an outward need, not on our own wants. We learned more about God’s creation – Stanley and all we read about flying squirrels had been fascinating. Stanley made us dream about the future – about someday having a home in the country and learning more about nature.
We ended up going to the Glider Diner at nine o’clock on a school night to celebrate Stanley’s little life and all of our table conversations passed the Philippians 4:8 filter – focusing on the honorable, true, just, pure, and lovely. And, our kids learned a little bit more about how God does allow blessings to come and go — to be grateful in the comings and to learn from the goings.
Today I plan to introduce my flying squirrel character to my dollhouse family in A Cursed Enchantment in honor of Stanley. She is a mama flying squirrel who seeks out Auntie Amita because her kit isn’t thriving. Auntie Amita will be scared out of her wits when what she thinks is a bat swoops down and scoops her up — and takes her way up in a tree to her nest. However, Amita will soon come to understand these remarkable rodents from the family sciuridae. Amita will find a way to help out this little guy, whom she will call Little Stanley even though he is almost as big as she is. This Stanley will make out better than our own Stanley did — with his own mother and in his natural habitat.