When Papa Comes Running

It’s the twilight hour.

He’s settled across from my summer seating to catch some of the game. But he’s dozing.

The Droid interrupts the outfield scramble. “Grace is in the field behind your house screaming. She’s not moving. She’s just standing there screaming, ‘Help me!’ I sent her through the field for a couple double-A batteries, but she’s standing there just screaming.”

“Something’s wrong with Grace! She’s screaming out back.”

He’s up and off. The floor shakes and the sink dishes shiver and papers fly off the kitchen table and his indoor flip-flops (the ones I hate) smack his feet as he races to her–moves faster than when I broke my foot.

I pause at the Hoosier to snatch the batteries before running out of the house barefoot, across the concrete, into the prickly grass, and around the corner of the garage in the direction of the shrieking.

Gravel flies as my daughter tears up our driveway and skids to a halt. We meet at the crabapple.

“Double A?” I pant and hand them to her.


Papa reaches the edge of the cornfield first, and Grace runs to him and then into her mother’s arms.

She’s shaking. Tears run down her face. Words come in gasps. She won’t take her eyes from the tree.

Something came at her and is in the tree. A bat? A swallow? What? What?

We look up.

We look down.

We look in.

And there deep in the branches, a movement of fur and two little eyes. It cowers against the trunk.

She has scared the wits out of an opossum that ran into the field and was nearly on her feet before he saw her, did a 180 and hightailed for cover.

“I think you gave him a heart attack.” I rub tangled bangs off her forehead. “It’s a wonder he didn’t just drop dead.”

She’s not laughing yet.

But she will tomorrow.

Tomorrow we’ll look up ‘possum facts.

And I’ll remind her.

I’ll remind her how some things are more afraid of us.

How we’re never lost to Him in the messy maze of life.

How He sees our first tear.

How He hears our first whimper.

And how some things are scared to death when our Papa comes running.



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    • Sandra says

      She was just frozen in that spot. She had to go *past* her fear in order to feel safe–meaning she had to go right past the tree where it hid.

    • Sandra says

      Cool that Papa moved faster than either Mom or I did. We’re so used to her “drama” that it’s sometimes hard to know when there’s a real problem. 😉

  1. says

    It’s a perfect illustration Sandy. He is always, always there. And how there is nothing so fearful He cannot save us.
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  2. says

    Such a sweet story. Ah, but I know that feeling so well. “Faster than when I broke my foot…” Feels so small of me when I get a twinge of that feeling…then I remember that’s pretty much why I love the man so much: he loves our kids and their kids so very, very well. Sigh. Sometimes I think I’ll NEVER grow up.
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    • Sandra says

      Thinking it doesn’t matter how old or “grown up” we are, our Papa always comes running as if we were a terrified child.

  3. Sharon O says

    Oh my goodness poor little thing, reminds me of when my husband found a possum in the garbage can, only it was dark and it was standing on it’s hind feet hissing at him I never have seen that man so scared in my life. (later we laughed about it with our teenage daughter)

    • Sandra says

      Oh, that made me laugh right out loud! But I would have screamed louder than Grace!. I read that possums put on a real good show, and that they might bite if you try to touch them, but mostly if they feel threatened, they’ll run. Or play dead.

      My husband used to feed the barn cats in the hay loft. He had to climb a ladder with their food, push them out of the way as they gathered around him in order to turn on the light. One night he shoved a particularly big cat out of the way, turned on the light, and found himself face to face with a big ole raccoon.

  4. Mitzy says

    Ohh.. i was so touched by your story. That’s what being a father is all about. Children rely to them when it comes to situation like this. She look up to her dad as her hero.

  5. says

    I cannot stand opossums. Not at all. Freaky ginormous rattish things that either faint like their corset is too tight or fight like someone is pulling their scratchy little toenails out.


    Tell her to yell “boo!” at it next time and grandma Sandra will cook him up real nice in a pot with ‘taters and onions.
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  6. says

    I loved your story. It reminds me of when I was 5 and swinging as high as I could on the tall swing my dad had built. A black jumping spider came from nowhere and landed on the leg of my jeans. I kicked and kicked to dislodge it but it refused to be dislodged. Then I started screaming. I kicked and screamed. The neighbor lady ran out of her house and into our back yard. I had scared her too. My mom ran out the back door. I had scared her too. They both thought I’d fallen and broken a bone. I can’t remember how it was all solved, but my mom saved me. Years later, as a young mother, I had a dream that I walked into a room and was beset from all sides by black jumping spiders. Dozens of them. I screamed and screamed in my sleep. In my dream my mom ran into the room with a hose & made all the spiders go away, just before my husband woke up and gently shook my shoulder. It wasn’t until your story and Carol’s comment that I realized that even in my sleep I saw my mother as a type of savior. She went to be with Jesus in 1992. I miss her. I’m glad I have a greater Savior that will never leave me.
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  7. Born27 says

    Hi Sandra! i really enjoyed reading your post and i’ve learned so much on this. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with us and i’m looking forward to read more from you.
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