Animal Therapy: Meet Tilly

I got a new kitten the other day.

For those of you following along, it’s not like I needed another animal in my personal zoo.

But my precious companion, Roosevelt , died in April. 

roosevelt in box on table spring 2017

Which was just in time to make the anniversary of Dominic going to Heaven, his funeral and his birthday harder since I didn’t have my favorite cat’s calming presence in my lap when grief overwhelmed me.

Once all the family festivities died down (seeing our grandson, celebrating our daughter’s wedding) I realized I really needed another cuddle bug.

My two other indoor cats are giants-great at hanging close to me but lousy at sitting in my lap.

So, meet Miss Tilly the Kitty.  

Tilly under kitchen chair 6_16_19Isn’t she the cutest? 

I’m trying to do on purpose what I did by accident with Roosevelt.

I’m working on orienting her to me, getting her comfortable being held and training her as a good traveler on the cart and in the car.  I need her to sleep next to me in the bed at least until I fall asleep.

So far, so good.  

After one day going around with me to feed in the morning, she’s no longer afraid of anything except the donkeys’ loud greeting.  (Which could make a grown man jump if he didn’t expect it!)

She makes me laugh.  She runs like a bat out of you-know-where between the living room, kitchen and dining room.  She’s entertains me and herself for nearly an hour at a time by rolling a  jingle bell ball around on the floor.

And she’s been really good company. 

As I’m typing this, she climbed in my lap which is exactly what I want her to do.  She lies down with me at night and sleeps so hard I can reposition her like a limp dishrag.  That’s what Roosevelt used to do,so I’m hopeful.  I’ve slept better the past few nights than I have since he died.

Today Tilly finally convinced one of the big cats to play with her a little.  The other one just shakes his head and walks away.  I’m calling them the “bachelor uncles” because all they really want out of life is a routine that includes plenty of food and peace and quiet.  I think they are not pleased I’ve brought this young whipper snapper into their previously predictable home.

 

moonshine and lightening grown in my chair faces

They’ll adapt.

Eventually.  

As for me, I’m enjoying the animal therapy.  

tilly on my knees and computer june 19

Yes, I AM a Cat Lady

I confess:  I AM a cat lady.

Not the one with the dozens living in the house and stinking up the place but the one who relies on her furry pal to get her through hard days.

I raised Roosevelt from the day he was born.  

His mom was a sickly outdoor cat that had never made it through a successful pregnancy and was not a candidate for being spayed because she wouldn’t have survived the anesthesia.

So the day I heard a tiny “mew” outside my window I hardly expected the sight I beheld. Here was mama kitty utterly amazed that she had birthed a baby, walking off the edge of the porch with a tiny black something still attached by the umbilical cord.

She could have cared less.

I grabbed scissors and a towel and rescued the little darling without much hope of his surviving.

But he did.

That was seven hospitalizations, two surgeries and one giant heartache ago.

He has become my comfort companion, my purring pal, the one who knows before I do that my RA is flaring, my heart breaking.

I am thankful for this oasis of comfort in a desert of hurt.

I am thankful that the God Who made me also made animals to bring healing in the midst of heartache.  Oh, so thankful for a husband that puts up with my crazy “save everything that breathes” personality and doesn’t mind if a cat sneaks up the side of the bed in the middle of the night to get cozy in the covers..

When Dominic died, I remember sitting in my chair as the parade of sweet friends and family came over to cry with us.  Roosevelt sat with me the entire time.  His warm body reminded me that I was still here even when my limbs seemed to float away into the ether and my mind wasn’t entirely certain that what I saw or heard was real.

I have learned to count my blessings.

And while the majority of them walk on two legs, at least one has four.

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Nothing Wasted

My grandmother used to make beautiful quilts out of cast off scraps friends would bring her by the bagful.

She never shopped in a quilting store with color-coordinated bolts of fabric lined up like watercolors against the wall.  She didn’t purchase a kit with pre-cut squares or fancy appliques.

quilt-fabric-wall

She took whatever she had and made it work. Even the ugly scraps were made beautiful when placed “just so’.  Bits that others found too small to be useful were melded together by her skillful hand into lovely gifts that continue to bless me and others.

She never wasted anything.  

God doesn’t waste anything either.  

When I consider the stories of Moses, Joseph and David I can see how all the events in their early lives shaped them in preparation for the work He had for them later on. Hardship, blessings, training and waiting were molded together by His skillful hands into precisely the vessel needed to carry the Good News to that generation.

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As a young mother, I dreamed of many things God might do in and through me and my family.  I thought I could envision the quilt He was making-the arrangement and the colors.  I never imagined so many dark patches would be part of the pattern.  

I don’t like this chapter of my life in many ways. But it is a chapter God is writing and will use to mold me into what He wants me to be.

I don’t expect that I will know this side of heaven what He is making from the bits and pieces, but He has promised it will be a masterpiece.

So I want to be pliable-even though it is painful.

For we are His workmanship [His own master work, a work of art], created in Christ Jesus [reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, ready to be used] for good works, which God prepared [for us] beforehand [taking paths which He set], so that we would walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us].

Ephesians 2:10 AMP

 

 

Another Day

I wake and you are still gone.

The cats tap-tap-tapping on my arms and face declare the day has begun despite the dark and I need to climb out of bed.

Why?

What difference does it make?

I trudge downstairs, put the coffee on, feed the cats and settle into my chair to read and write.

Habits.

Routine carries me through the day.  There are things that need to be done.

The sun still rises-must be soon now because I hear the rooster’s escalating declaration that he, at least, can see the light.

One cat settles into my lap adding weight and warmth to the morning. I remember when I held you and your brothers and sister.  I never tired of that sweet bundle bearing down on my heart.

I would do anything to feel it again.

But that can’t be.  And I won’t hold your children either.

All of you was taken away.

Every last molecule, every last gene.

Nothing left but flat photos and memories that are increasingly difficult to piece together in rich detail.

The vital essence that sent shock waves through a room, the loud laugh, the snarky comments, the deep, deep voice that made you sound so serious-all gone.

Heaven is a real  place and I know you are there.

But I want you here.

I can’t help it.

All the theological arguments don’t fill the hole in my heart where you are supposed to be.

Shake it off.

Here’s the sun.

Get to it.

Another day.

 

 

June Challenge: Eight Legs and Eternity

Day Eight of Kathleen Duncan’s  June 1-30 challenge.

The prompt:  Write a story with eight legs or turn the eight sideways and use “infinity” (eternity) as your prompt.

Eternity is a long time.

Just try and wrap your mind around it.

But when you bury a child, that’s what you think about-the forever that comes when he left his earthly body and entered the Presence of Jesus.

So many hard days followed, so many tears, so much pain.  I wanted to escape to eternity with Dominic.

I would be there eventually anyway, why not now?

But it’s not up to me to determine when I go. So I remain, and try to find a way to make the days count, be useful and stay hope-filled.

And eight legs have helped me stay rooted in the “now” when my heart longs to be in “forever”.

That first Thanksgiving after losing Dominic in April, we  visited our oldest son and his wife in West Virginia where she was a vet.

Touring Lillie’s office, we were introduced to two fluffy, orange kittens that had been abandoned by the road and brought there in hopes of finding a home.

 

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One look and I was smitten.

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It took less than five minutes to decide to take them back with us to Alabama.

Who could resist those faces?

 

At dinner that night, we brainstormed possible names.  I still have the list in my notes on my phone:  Kit Kat, Pumpkin, Scratch and Sniff, Cheetos, Doritos, Tostito.

We decided on names that reflected their roots- Moonshine and White Lightning.

After all, West Virginia is home to as many stills as hills.

Once we got back, their needs became part of my morning routine-a constant and undeniable reminder that I HAD to get out of bed.  And they made me laugh!

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Here is Lightning soaking up the sun in front of the picture window.

 

 

 

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Moonshine’s personality is more relaxed-why sit when you can lay down?

 

 

I used to be able to pick up both of them with one hand, now it takes two hands to pick up one of them!

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They have grown into good companions, great mousers, soft lap warmers and serious purr machines.

I’m very glad these eight legs live in my house.  

They’ve been excellent therapy for my hurting heart.

Benefits of Pet Therapy:

  • lowers blood pressure
  • improves cardiovascular health
  • releases endorphins (oxytocin) that have a calming effect
  • diminishes overall physical pain
  • the act of petting produces an automatic relaxation response, reducing the amount of medication some folks need
  • lifts spirits and lessens depression
  • decreases feelings of isolation and alienation
  • encourages communcation
  • provides comfort
  • lowers anxiety
  • creates motivation for the client to recover faster
  • reduces loneliness