While Eric, the boys, and I used our mostly free boat dive coupons, Grandma (aka my mom), stayed with Katie and Noelle. As Noelle (8 years old) meandered by a tree that she often climbs, she shook a branch. Suddenly, she felt a sharp pain on her back and she realized she was being attacked by a horde of angry wasps. Shrieking, she bolted into the house, bringing two of the infuriated insects with her. Grandma quickly pieced together what was happening and decimated the evil adversaries. Poor Noelle had eight wasp bites, some actually having penetrated her tee-shirt! Grandma did what she could for the pain; thankfully, there was some Benedryl in the house which helped with the swelling.
A few hours later, Eric and I returned from our scuba trip to hear the distressing tale. As Noelle relayed the story, she informed Grandma that the wasps hurt worse than the fire ants that manage to attack her little flip-flop clad feet on a fairly regular basis. In response to this, my mother raised wide-eyes to me and queried, “Those aren’t fire ants on the kitchen counter are they?”
“Oh no,” I replied. “Those are some kind of carnivore ants. They don’t eat anything sweet—only meat. I don’t think they’d bite you unless they got squished between, for instance, your waist and your waistband. It’s the “boonie” ants you have to watch out for. They are forever biting me as I sit at the computer and type.” (I had explained earlier that what I call “boonie” (wild) ants are little larger than a speck of dust and they’re not in our kitchen but in the room where we keep the computer.)
My poor mom, I could see she was a bit uptight. Throughout the ensuing couple of hours, I noticed her scanning her arms and legs. As she finished making some chocolate chip cookies in the kitchen, she yowled, “Ouch! One of those ants bit me!”
Oh, dear! Maybe they do occasionally bite; but, I guess I’m so used to it that I don’t pay much attention. From that moment, my mom’s eyes roamed over all surfaces she passed—both human and furniture. After a time she inquired, “Do any of those ants go in your bed?”
“No, I’ve never seen any in our sleeping areas,” I assured her.
Soon my mom disappeared into her bedroom only to excitedly reappear a few minutes later proclaiming, “There! There WAS one in my bed!!! I’m telling you, there was an ant in my bed!!”
“Mom, I really don’t think it was an ant,” I reassured. “I’ve never seen one in our beds.”
I think she was just beginning to feel safe when there came a screech from Noelle, who had decided to take a soothing shower to relieve her wasp bites. As we all rushed to Noelle, there, on the shower floor, was a poisonous centipede. I thought my mom would expire on the spot. I tried to comfort her with the advice to always wear flip flops if you have to get up in the night so that you won’t accidentally step on one. I think I should have kept this helpful advice to myself because it didn’t seem to have a soothing effect on my mother, who, at this point, was running her fingers through her hair, certain she’d discover vermin.
The following morning, Mom looking a bit sleep-deprived, we headed out for the beautiful southern end of the island. This side of the island is a patchwork quilt of lush jungle and cerulean sea. The kids wanted to stop and swim at Inarajan, a fun place to jump off rocks into pools of 86 degree
Rushing back home, we all changed quickly and sped off to PIBC where we were to have a fiesta with about ten students who were living and working at the college over the summer. We had given them money to buy the ingredients to make whatever they wanted for the feast. Not surprisingly, ribs, chicken, rice (ALWAYS rice), crab salad, and potato salad made up the fare. As we walked across the outdoor basketball court to greet the students, a two-inch-long cockroach scurried to get out of our way. Being as dumb as dirt, the bug kept scrambling in the same direction that our daughter, Katie, was strolling. Katie’s flip-flop clad feet were right in the path of the dim-wit’s frenetic escape route. My mother, convinced the cockroach had sinister intentions, frantically grabbed Katie and made a bee-line for the closest shelter. She hunkered down in that structure warning all of us of assailing cockroaches and barraging mosquitoes (the second part being true). As the students and the rest of our family feasted outside with a multitude of insects serenading us, Mom was hunkered down in her sanctuary. Finally, I approached the shelter and told her she REALLY needed to come out and join us. She gulped, and with pupils fully dilated, headed toward the door leading to “enemy territory.” It was at this point that I sighed, “You’d make a terrible missionary!” Taking no offense, she wholeheartedly agreed and tremulously plodded closer toward the door, her last barrier between safety and the certain onslaught of insect bombardments. I kindly handed her a bottle of mosquito repellant stating, “I’ve got your back, Mom. I promise we’ll get out of here alive.”