by Kate Mohler
Today I hung pictures in my bedroom, colorful original works that I’d purchased at an arts festival. They’d been sitting on the floor since April, propped up against the walls. No handyman then, no handyman now, so I finally gathered my tools to do it myself.
With each spattering of nail holes, I fulfilled cultural myths: women should stay in the kitchen, girls are not good at math. My bedroom looked like it had been machine-gunned by the time I was done. That’s okay—I know how to spackle too. I stepped back to admire my work and noticed a red smear on the wall near the last picture I’d hung. What was that? I looked closer and realized it was blood. Holy!
I quickly tap-danced in place to find the source, knowing it was on me, somewhere. I discovered that the smarting in my left pinky was not just a small irritation but rather a deep slice from which blood bubbled forth, dripping down my hand. I shot my arm into the air, remembering a first-aid hint to keep bleeding wounds above the heart, and headed for the bathroom. As I stepped through the doorway, I noticed another bright red smear on the doorframe. Holy! It looked the mafia had come to hang my pictures.
As I stood over the sink watching cold water wash my DNA down the drain, I couldn’t help but think of my dad. Unlike me and the rest of his children, he has always bled with great nonchalance. My dad is a longtime woodsman, hunter and gardener—one of the lesser known saints from the Midwest, actually—a moveable feast for generations of mosquitoes and deer flies. I can’t count the number of times I’ve been sitting across from him at the dinner table when an orchid of blood has blossomed on his shirt. “Dad, you’re bleeding” became a routine observation for the five of us Mohler kids growing up, the refrain to the song of life in our household.
Not that he cared. He could peel a wood tick the size of a tarantula off his scalp and sit there with blood dripping down his forehead—our new half-sibling waving hello with eight legs—and this would not faze him. My mom was capable of loading her lyrics with a little more sense of urgency: the word “Jim, you’re blee-ding” accompanied by a jabbing motion or tapping toward her own body usually elicited one serious downward glance, maybe a quick dab with a napkin, but never surprise or horror, and certainly not a tap dance.
Sometimes blood was the most we got out of our dad, and that seemed more than okay.
Kate Mohler is originally from Minnesota, but has lived in Wisconsin, UP Michigan, Pennsylvania, Washington State, and Alaska. She now resides in Arizona. She has a B.A. in English from Bemidji State University in Minnesota (um…go Beavers!) and an M.F.A. in creative writing (Arizona State, ’94). She is a full-time English faculty member at Mesa Community College in Arizona. She enjoys working out, writing, reading, bonding with her cats Sara and Lucy, tackling home projects, and now baring her soul on her blog, www.hotdishing.com.
Read her latest MinnPost piece Is It Time To Give Up On Arizona?