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My Mother Has Two Sons: Me and a Squirrel

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My Mother Has Two Sons: Me and a Squirrel

Dec. 5, 2022, 5:00 a.m. ET
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By Tom Krawczyk

Mr. Krawczyk is a documentary filmmaker.

During the summer of 2020, I returned home to Chicago during a break from my studies at the Lodz Film School in Poland. When I got there, my mother quietly walked me into a room where she gently pulled a strange, hairless creature out of a shoe box. It looked as if it had plummeted to earth from another planet.

“He’s sleeping,” she whispered as she opened the box. A tiny head peeked out from the mountain of towels, blankets and a homemade heating pad made out of a used white sock and rice. “What is that?” I asked. I squinted my eyes as I gently moved the blanket to expose the animal’s torso. “Is that a squirrel?” I looked over at her, and even though it was dark, her beaming smile lit up the room. “Yes,” she nodded.

My mother had found the baby squirrel abandoned in her yard. She contacted animal shelters nearby, but they were struggling to take in more animals during the Covid pandemic, so my mother began caring for him herself. My intuition told me to pick up a camera. I knew something special was happening. My mother, a Polish immigrant who had raised me by herself, had been dealing with her newly empty nest after I left for school, and I knew the joy that raising the squirrel would bring her.

After returning to Poland, I saw my mother raise him as she raised me — with meticulous love and care. But he was a wild animal, and eventually my mother had to do what all mothers do: let her child go out into the world. In the short documentary above, I document their journey together.

Tom Krawczyk is a photographer and filmmaker based in Chicago.

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