“A merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.” (Prov. 17:22)
We were going outside to have some fun. I was already dancing at the door by the time everyone was ready to go. Dad sat in a patio chair and watched as we all went out into the snow to play.
I soon found out that if I would hop through the snow with my mouth open, I could scoop up the snow like a shovel.
I loved the snow. It was cold in my mouth, and cold on my face, and cold on my feet. It felt so good.
While I was busy hopping and making Daddy laugh, Mom and Brother were building the snowman.
They rolled up big balls of snow and piled them on top of each other. They put on a hat and stuck some sticks in it for arms.
It was so funny it made me laugh, but my laugh sounded like a “rowrr, rowrr, rowrr” that made everyone else laugh. We were having a great time.
Mom started throwing snowballs at Brother and Brother started throwing them at Mom. I tried to run and catch the ones that missed but they just came apart in my mouth.
Then they both started throwing them at Dad. We were all laughing and playing when suddenly there was a loud cracking sound in the treetops above Marvin’s house.
Dad turned and said, “What’s that noise?”
A huge limb that hung out over Marvin’s pile of branches was breaking from the weight of the snow.
With another loud crack it broke loose from the tree and fell right down on Marvin’s house. CRASH! Snow and dead branches went ﬂying everywhere.
“I’m sure glad none of you were over by the storage building when that fell,” Dad said. “Somebody could’ve gotten hurt. Luckily it just landed on that old pile of branches.”
“Oh No!” I thought. “That’s not just a pile of branches. That’s my best friend Marvin’s house!”
I hopped through the snow as fast as I could and went to the fence behind the storage building.
“Marvin, Marvin! Are you alright?” I grunted, but there was no answer. I listened carefully, and then I heard a faint little squeak.
“Mom! Dad! Come quickly, Marvin needs your help!” ARF, ARF! I barked as loudly as I could. “Brother, help. Hurry!” ARF, ARF!
“Jake, what is it boy? Jake, come here!” Dad called and whistled. I always came when Dad called and whistled, but this time I just couldn’t. I kept barking. I had to get help for Marvin!
“Brother, you ought to go and see what Jake’s barking at. Something must be wrong for him to not come when I call,” Dad said.
Brother came around behind the storage building where I was barking at Marvin’s house.
“Hey, Dad.” Brother yelled. “You and Mom might want to come over here. There’s a noise coming out from under this pile of branches that the limb fell on. I think there’s something underneath there.”
Dad got his walker, and he and Mom came around to where Brother and I were. “You know, I believe you’re right,” Dad said. “I think there is something under there.”
“Oh Raymond, we’ve got to do something,” Mom said. “Whatever it is, it sounds hurt. It could be a puppy or a kitten.”
“No, it’s my friend Marvin. He’s a possum.” I tried to tell them, but all they heard were the oinks and grunts.
“Well, ﬁrst we’ve got to move that limb. Brother, you get the rope out of the storage building, and Mom, if you’ll take the cover off of the lawn tractor and unlock the gate, I’ll get the key and we’ll see what we can do.”
It wasn’t long before Dad turned the key, and the funny red horse came to life. Vroom! Vroom, Vroom!
The horse roared as Dad backed it out and headed toward the gate.
We all followed him out to the ﬁeld where the limb had fallen on the pile of branches. Brother tied one end of the rope to the limb and the other end to the funny red horse.
“Stand back out of the way,” Dad shouted. “We don’t want another limb to fall on anybody.”
The horse roared louder, and the wheels started spinning in the snow. Slowly the limb began to move and Dad pulled it out of the way.
Mom and Brother gently moved the branches until we could see an old torn blanket with a skinny tail sticking out from underneath it.
Dad had taken the rope off the limb and driven back to where we were. “Oh Raymond,” Mom said. “I believe it’s a possum.”
Brother slowly pulled the blanket off the little body. “I’m afraid he may be dead. He’s not making any noise and it looks like he’s not breathing.”
I pushed between their legs to see, and there lay Marvin. His lips were pulled back showing his teeth. He looked stiff and there was a strange smell coming from him.
“Oh no! Marvin,” I thought as tears ﬁlled my eyes. Next to my family, he was my best friend.
“I wouldn’t stand too close,” Dad said. “Haven’t you ever heard the expression ‘playing possum’?”
“What’s that?” Brother asked.
“Well,” Dad said “When a possum is injured or feels threatened, he goes into a kind of trance. Kind of like a bear in hibernation.”
“His body gets real stiff, he appears to quit breathing, and he sends out a terrible smell to make other animals think that he’s dead.”
“It’s something God put in their nature to protect them.”
“How do we know the difference?” Brother asked. “You know, whether he’s really dead or just ‘playing possum’?”
“You just have to leave him alone. After a while he’ll wake up and if the danger is gone, he’ll just run away.”
“We just can’t leave him out here in the cold,” Mom said. “He may be playing possum, but what if he’s really hurt? We have to do something.”
Dad said, “There’s a cage in the chicken coop. We can put him in there until we ﬁnd out if he’s still alive or not.”
Brother got the cage, and Mama put Marvin’s blanket in it. They gently lifted Marvin and put him inside.
Mom and Brother carried the cage back into the yard and set it on the patio, while Dad put the funny red horse back in his place.
Mom put a little bowl of water in the cage and covered it over with another blanket for the night. As we were going back inside, I looked at the cage and grunted.
“I hope you’ll be alright,” I said. “I hope the Creator will let you stay and be my friend.”
(TO BE CONTINUED)