Tag Archives: family

Learning to Cat

In February, I wrote here about the loss of our dear family member Gato: about how he was a cautious animal whose whole story we did not know, who became a successful kitty with a home and a family who loved him, and thus did as well as a cat may.

All the love we poured into our relationship with himand before him, T.R. and his brother Gordonis an emotion whose existence demands outlet. As my character Jon Anthony said, we have love, hate, and indifference to choose. Only love’s work is life.

So it was inevitable that when the Editress, seeing signs of lonely nervousness in our remaining furbuddy Leo, we would adopt again. Through a worthwhile agency and no-kill shelter nearby, we asked for one of the cats who needed someone most. And we met Freddy.

He had been found downtown, begging for food, and sat unclaimed in the city shelter until his stay there was up. He then transferred to another place where he would be given more time.

He spent fifteen months there, shut in a small room with one other companion, as noisy families tromped through looking for someone to adopt. He huddled. He hid. He was grasped in ways he didn’t like to be transported and put on display for adoption, and doubtless hated every bit of it because he was terrified. Freddy wasn’t good at selling himself to prospective families, and when we saw what had happened to him it broke our hearts.

I managed to sit with him while the Editress looked over some other candidates. Freddy’s nose buried itself in the crook of my arm to make the overwhelming world go away. I heard and felt him purr for the first time under the strokes of a loving hand.

That was Leap Day. This is springtime. It’s said transition to normalcy in an adopted pet will take place in stages: three days, three weeks, three months. We’re not there yet. Freddy loves Leo, but remains terrified of being seized by humans, because his memories there are bad. He’s missing out on laps and cuddles and kisses, and we’re trying to teach him. We’ll keep trying.

He’s missing out because he doesn’t understand how to cat here. Fear is dominating his perspective, and it’s frustrating to those who love him. Love keeps trying. Like water, it seeps into every opening it can find, driven by its patron spirit. Hate employs harsher methods of implanting itself, for that patron is impatient to advance works of death, and trips over itself in its lust for destruction. Sometimes, it backs off to let the dry rot of indifference work from within instead, but in the long game, the effect of either strategy is the same.

Hate tries to hide. Not like Freddy did out of fear, but with the same strategy any predator employs: to overcome with a minimum of effort once opportunity manifests. It hurts the vulnerable and oppresses the hopeless until, it schemes, God’s work of life will be crushed to dust under the weight of engineered temporal adversity.

To the enemy’s misfortune, we are surrounded by the testimony of Creation as to the work of its Craftsman, and His light is everywhere, cutting through the darkness cast by His adversary; they contest for souls through the messaging of two patron spirits. One tells us, “Stop trying to understand. This was meaningless at the start.” The less brash offers, “Your perspective is not yet broad enough to discern My purpose.”

The latter’s seed of hope can find good ground through a crack in concrete, root, grow and spread its prison into space for a life. So it goes in a work driven by love, and love keeps trying while the hate fueling works of death consumes it bearer, sputters, and dies. It’s as true in microcosm as it has been in history, and shall be through the millennium to come.

The Editress is slowly working her way with Freddy, grasping and partially lifting him during the time he consents to be petted, soothing his fears, accustoming him to closer human contact and preparing him for wonderful things just ahead. She is patient that way. Her work is also life, as I’ve seen for the best part of forty years to my benefit and that of everyone she touches.

We are learning to cat, and learning to human. We are being educated to accommodate The Way Things Are and how to hear advice whispered by the voice of the Spirit. We are learning ourselves and delving deeper into the sufficiency of Christ. Because love elsewhere didn’t stop trying, we now understand more than we did, and give God the glory.

Choose to love. -DA

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In production news, the Editress is finishing preparatory reading prior to this month’s launch of her editing cycle for Sean Ritter’s next release, Twenty-Four Hours to Midnight. Please check the tabs above for more information on existing titles, works in progress, and the timelines that will help you decide how you wish to read Jon, Sean, and Boone.

G. Gordon Kitty passes

In mid-August 1996, two gray tabbies were born in the dairy barn of a friend. They were a litter of two to another gray tabby called Tripaw’d. She was a small cat, the victim of a farm machinery accident that left her without a rear foot. Her loss was no impediment, as she granted access to the barn food dish with a swipe at every other cat who came to eat, presumably for not showing her proper enough deference.

Eight weeks later the pair of kittens arrived at our house in a cardboard box, having fought the driver of a pickup truck to escape the container for thirty miles. It was a conspiracy. The box was delivered without a word—from a human. It was only a second before the kitten (who was probably Gordon) meowed as a surprise to his human mother, and the two began  their lives as members of our family.

His brother was stockier and proper from the start. We named him Theodore Roosevelt, and he became our beloved TR. His smaller brother, who gave up nothing to size, earned the best cat name ever:  G. Gordon Kitty.

Both filled our lives with unforgettable joy. From the new kittens scampering across the sofa as if it were a bale of hay to the cats who came to see us as their family, days were filled with laughter at their antics, and the evenings were fulfilled by the sharing of quiet time together. Human laps are cat-shaped and warm, and meant for occupation.

They lived their lives with us, and followed where we went, and even if the new house was small they at least remained with the ones who loved them. Finally, they arrived at the last house they would know, surrounded by Texas oaks and situated in a spacious fenced lawn of green grass. Windows ledges are fine for sitting, and a bath for birds stands outside the best one.

TR died at 5:55 AM on New Year’s Day in 2009 of an undiagnosed congenital heart condition. We had enough warning, and the ones he loved most were there with him. They included  Gordon, who spent their last few nights together in this world keeping his brother warm in a padded laundry basket on the floor of the den. Gordon was there when his brother left the world, as he was when TR came. Our hearts were broken.

Cats mourn. We saw in Gordon the same emotions that we felt. We felt the same sadness, the sense of loss, the longing for the brother who was no longer there.

Gordon himself had no easy life. He and TR nearly died after their first series of shots from the same allergic reaction, and only the quick action of a veterinary team saved their lives. Gordon, had he stayed in the barn, would have died at 30 months from a bladder stone that bisected his urethra. Scarring from that first procedure would have taken him again at age five, had we not lived in a location with advanced veterinary surgery available. Vets saved his life once again from a serious kidney infection caught by the watchful eyes of his human mom three and a half years ago.

Gordon survived with reduced kidney function, requiring very regular subcutaneous infusions of fluid for the rest of his life. Those years were good ones, and we treasured every one of our last days with him. When it was his time he left the world from his home, in the embrace of the two people who loved him most, as his brother did in the same room three years earlier.

TR was a very proper cat, careful and reflective in every situation. Gordon was a cat of action and bold adventure. He reveled in discovery, and could open cabinet doors and disc drives with ease. Gordon dialed 911 by walking across a speakerphone one Super Bowl Sunday and then hung up on the dispatcher, allowing us to meet two of our city’s finest at our front door to explain his talent.

Gordon was a bright light. He looked deep into your eyes to see who was there. He grasped the concept of family and of love. He brought joy to our lives and so was a very successful cat. We thank God for the decade and a half plus that we were allowed to be his humans. His life was a gift on loan from a loving Creator, and we do not begrudge Gordon’s return to his Source. If it were within our power, we would have kept him here.

Light bright and dim will leave the world today, but Gordon’s led the way, as was always his style. Lives great and small end in every moment. In this moment, I mourn only one. My cat is dead. My friend is gone. My heart is undone.

Choose to love, -DA