“I once knew this little lady who was blind as a bat,” spoke a woman as my wife Dorothy and I were leaving the church. “Her husband would lead her around by her hand — it was so cute!” Then, after catching her breath, she added — while still looking at my wife — “Well, how is Ernie?”

“He is right here; why not ask him?” was my wife’s reply.

I have to admit, my first feelings concerning what this lady was saying were not really kind thoughts. I began to wonder if, when others see my wife guiding me, they also think it is “cute.” Fortunately, I doubt this is the case.

I will also say, this lady didn’t turn to me, didn’t acknowledge me, but continued talking to my wife as if I wasn’t there.

Now, back to “blind as a bat.”

Reluctant to stop when I was so nearly finished with my yard cleanup, I continued working, although the evening’s twilight was rapidly settling down around me. Then a cry sent me hurrying into the house.

I found Dorothy watching something flying around over her head in our kitchen/dining room. It was too big to be a moth and definitely wasn’t a bird. It uttered not a sound — even its wings were quiet — making me strain to hear the soaring sound overhead.

“That’s a bat,” I said, remaining still as if I was glued to the floor. “How did he get in?”

“I had the back door open for a few minutes — maybe that ‘thing’ got in then.”

“I want it out of here,” she added.

The bat flew back and forth, obviously wanting out but not dropping down to exit through the open door.

Up to that moment, I couldn’t remember ever seeing a bat before. Sure, we had heard of them, even feared them, but I never knew bats lived in our area.

I knew the bat had to go. Moving around, waving our arms, Dorothy and I tried to drive him to fly out the doorway, but to no avail.

The bat appeared to be tiring, and finally landed on the narrow ledge above the door frame. Carrying a glass gallon jug, I slowly approached the bat, and with a swift thrust had him in the container. The bat fluttered a little before settling down on the glass.

Sliding a piece of cardboard down to close the open jug, I carried the vessel and its not-too-happy occupant outside. Once in the open yard, I tipped the jug and removed the cardboard, and the bat flew into the growing darkness.

It’s possible the bat had flown in through the door, but I suspect he had been a resident in the old house before we were. I had spent several months trying to make what many called a shack into a respectable home. There were cracks under the eaves, around both front and back doors, with some gaps large enough for my hand to slip through. There also were broken windows that needed to be replaced.

Over several weeks I’d sealed up these openings, including giving the house a complete makeover with new siding. Thus, without knowing there was another resident, I may have trapped the bat in the dark attic.

I thought the ceiling also was sealed, but later wondered if I had left an opening around the joining of two old additions to the house. Or maybe I had left a gap around the old but no longer used chimney, thus allowing the bat to find a new escape route after finding his longtime entrance blocked. His only way out was to drop down into the main section of the house. Fortunately, we never found another bat in the home.

In doing some searching I learned the smallest bat weighs about the same as a copper penny. The largest bat is over 3 pounds, with a wingspan of several feet. Years ago, in India, we found some of these large bats hanging near the top of a large banyan tree. To me, they looked about the size of a half-grown chicken, though I knew half this size was in their wings.

I’ve also read — contrary to what many believe — bats don’t enjoy getting caught in a person’s hair. So ladies, don’t worry if you find a bat flying nearby.

But are bats really blind? I did more searching and came up with the following.

Despite apparent common knowledge, bats actually are not blind, according to researcher Paul Faure of McMaster University’s Bat Lab.

“All bats can see, and all bats are sensitive to changing light levels because this is the main cue that they use to sense when it is (night time) and time to become active,” Faure is quoted as saying.

Thus, I ask, what do you mean when you say someone is “blind as a bat”?

With this thought in mind, I am wishing for you a great New Year.

Ernie Jones, a registered nurse who retired due to vision loss, can be reached at 529-9252 or eajsr37@outlook.com.