Sacrificing to keep others safe

As I’ve noted before, Grampy Grumpy plans all of our vacations. The most input I’ve ever had was threatening a mutiny if we went to the beach one more time. That year, we went to the mountains.

I should’ve threatened mutiny again.

We meandered down the Southeast coastline, and one of our stops was in South Carolina. Maybe people in South Carolina won’t like to hear this, but South Carolina is swampy. In comparison to, say, the Appalachian Mountains.

And it was raining. A lot. So the rivers rose and the swamp crept up and up until I was worried about alligators tumbling out of the river and sneaking under the floorboards of the cute little cabins we’d rented. Or worse, water moccasins. (Does South Carolina have water moccasins? I’m sure they’ve got some sort of water-borne snake.) Snakes can wedge themselves in the darnest places and access spaces alligators can’t.

I shouldn’t have worried about the alligators and the snakes – I didn’t see a single one of either. I should have been worried about the mosquitoes.

South Carolina mosquitoes are roughly the size and speed of hummingbirds and three times as blood-thirsty as their Appalachian counterparts. And there are millions of them. Waiting for you to crack a screen door so they can invade. Searching for minute holes in the screens so they can infiltrate and buzz loudly and tauntingly while you huddle under the sheet and wonder if cotton is an efficient barrier to their blood-sucking proboscises. (It’s not.)

These monstrous insects would mass around our cars. Perhaps they were drawn by the heat of the engine or perhaps they were possessed of a low cunning and knew if we left the cabins, we were heading to the car. It wasn’t as if we could enjoy cookouts or bonfires with the bloody beggars about.

It got that any time someone wandered from my parents’ cabin to ours, the standard operating procedure was to bodily yank them inside, slam the door shut and shriek “inspection!” while examining them for insectoid hitchhikers.

Well, it was my SOP, anyway.

Grampy Grumpy wasn’t too appreciative when he came to our cabin.

“Inspection!” I yelled.

I was horrified to see not one, not two, but three evil, blood-sucking maniacs feeding on my helpless father. On his face! And he was completely unaware! The horror!

So I did what any good daughter would do – I killed the attackers. Despite the fact I really, really don’t like touching icky things, and mosquito guts and tiny smears of other people’s blood definitely qualify as icky. But I armed myself in steely resolve and did it anyway.

I can see how my sacrifice could have been mistaken for a slap, instead of a selfless action, but he didn’t have to be so grumpy about it.

“You just wanted an excuse to slap me,” he grumbled.

No, Dad, I did it for you. Why won’t anyone believe me?

(Wallace-Minger, a Weirton resident, is The Weirton Daily Times community editor and can be contacted at