The retirement home’s elevators always bring a new flurry of conversation. Joe might mention that warm prune juice has extra benefits, while Marie might be fussing that the upcoming dance needs more rock and roll music. There is always a discussion of some sort and everyone has an opinion.
Last Tuesday was different. Two gentlemen with wheel chairs and woman with a walker and I filed into the elevator. A woman jumped in last minute. She held something wrapped in a miniature blanket. She settled in behind a wheelchair. “What have you got there?” Marie asked, curiously. “It’s a baby squirrel that fell out of its nest,” the woman replied. “The local school called us to pick it up. I rescue them and feed them until they can be released back into the wild. I’m naming him Bumpy.” Now she had everyone’s attention.
“Which school?” It made no difference, but Randy wanted to know.
“What will you do with Bumpy?” Ron inquired. “I’ll use an eyedropper to feed him diluted milk,” and in a few weeks, we’ll be able to release him,” the woman replied.
“Does it have rabies?” Marie asked.
The woman answered each question calmly assuring them that this baby squirrel was not dangerous. The animal fit inside her palm. He had grayish brown fur. His feet were finely developed with small claws that would enable him to climb trees. His eyes were closed. I’m sure Bumpy was wondering, “Where in the hell is my mother?”
The elevator stopped on the third floor where Chuck joined us. Marie gave him the scoop on Bumpy.
At the fifth floor two men in wheelchairs rolled out and two women, Rose and Clara, with walkers got in. Again, Marie gave them the details on Bumpy. Both women pet Bumpy lightly and cooed to him. Clara woman wanted to hold him.
When we reached the eighth floor everyone got off except me and Bumpy’s rescuer. They all bid farewell to the baby squirrel in the blanket. “You be a good boy, Bumpy, and drink all your milk to get strong,” Rose said, with grandmotherly advice. She waved goodbye.
The rescue woman was headed to a meeting on the fifteenth floor. We had a few seconds to chat. “People are always so interested in our squirrel rescue,” she mentioned casually. “I’ll just put him in my left shirt pocket for the meeting. No one will realize he’s even there.”
She moved the blanket to show me Bumpy’s face. “He’s probably two weeks old. The nest must have gotten crowded and he fell out. There was another sibling on the ground, but there was an no heartbeat when I got there.” I imagined she had a miniature stethoscope to listen.
I’m used to interesting conversations in the elevators at the retirement home. I hear all sorts of comments. This day I was struck at the attention Bumpy was given. At a time when we’re debating on abortion and letting babies die who live through the abortions, this baby squirrel was given so much love from strangers. It made me wonder if the world had turned upside down. This helpless creature was loved, petted, and would survive thanks to this rescue person’s care.
Yet, we have babies who are left to die after birth. They might be crying, in pain, or just cold and lonely. Their nest was not crowded when they were forced out. My heart breaks when I envision a baby left to die on a cold table, all alone. Even the squirrel rescuer planned to put his tiny body in her shirt pocket, over her heart. He’d be kept warm and could hear her heartbeat. He would be safe.
I think we need a baby rescue team STAT.