I was intent on blogging before now, writing a bit about our trip to Georgia, but that can wait. So can the other blog I was writing about Father’s day. I’ll edit and get them out here eventually. I’ve been distracted.
I’m one of those people who believe that a life is a life is a life. It doesn’t matter whether others don’t see things the way I do, whether they look at their hamburgers and respectfully recognize the sacrifice made for that meaty meal. Most people I know don’t even capture bugs they find in their homes and release them outside like I do. I guess I’m okay with that. Those people are just different.
Anyhow, about 13 months ago, an unwanted kitten joined our family. I use the word “unwanted” because I later learned that the little guy had been walking in and out of the entrance to the elementary school for awhile before I dropped my son off for school that morning, and he was there when I, along with several school buses and several other parents, went back to the school a couple of hours later for the students’ awards ceremonies.
Being that I’m me, I threw my car into park, blocking all the cars on the state route. I went and got him. I’m pretty sure a butterfly weighed more than he did. His long fur provided most of his weight. I left the matted ball of fur in the car, on the passenger seat, promised I’d be back, and spent the next hour in the school watching my son and the rest of the third-graders smile at their accomplishments.
For a cat, that little fuzzball was quite subdued when I got back to the car. I put his wee body on my thigh, fumed over his condition, and the reality that not one other person considered giving him respite. Once home, I soaped off the stench of death in his fur, wiped out his gunky eyes, fed him some soft meat laced with antibiotics, wrapped him in a blanket, then bedded him down.
I wasn’t as hopeful as I could be about his surviving such an ordeal at such a young age. I knew though that he was a life created by the same creator of all life, AND that he deserved respect and love just as all living things do. He was even given 3 names: Rocky Balboa, Sylvester, and Mr. Pickles. They all seemed to fit, but Mr. Pickles was my favorite.
Long story short: I’m not sure how he pulled through the devastating respiratory infection that spread into his eyes. Even with antibiotics, he regularly gurgled fluids. Most of his vision was lost in his right eye, but the other was a beautiful green marble. Hair started growing back on his feet where I later discovered, it looked as though it were burned off.
I gave him a kitten-sized water bowl, but he insisted on drinking out of the “big kids” bowl, drenching his legs each time he was thirsty. He ate vigorously, AND noisily. If one of us gave him a scrap of food, we had to use a fork, or risk losing a finger. He was determined to not be left starving again. (Our other cat’s wouldn’t allow such a thing!)
A few weeks after Pickles joined us, my oldest son delivered us a kitten from one of his litters down in Georgia. Grendel became Mr. Pickle’s surrogate litter-mate; his brother; his buddy to do kitten things with: cat races, wrestling matches, inappropriate curtain climbing. Having only one good eye didn’t bother him in the least, and he bypassed living in survival-mode. He started to thrive.
(Pickles and his two best buddies: Grendel and Gil) (Also note “The Eye of the Tiger” associated with Pickles’ other names)
He became a cuddle bug, enjoying the feeling of fingers combing his belly hairs. And if there was no petting, just a little sweet-talking directed towards him, he’d arch his head to the side over and over until he was rubbed down. Oh, those little velvet ears! This mama loved rubbing them. Purrrrrrrr.
He liked drinking water out of the bathroom sink. He loved always being close to any of his human family members; waiting outside of showers, curling up underfoot while I washed dishes, helping me plant and weed my flowerbeds, sitting on the log pile watching his boy play on the tire swing… This past Memorial Day, he insisted on climbing in my car when we were leaving for the parade. Not knowing what to expect, we took him along where he sat on the car’s dashboard watching all the activity, and ate nacho cheese on a hotdog. —I’m pretty sure he thought the day was a dedication to him, and in a way, it was.
In a high, baby-talk voice, I tell all my critters that they have lots of kisses, and that I’m going to take them. If the critter rebels, I insist they must “take my love,” smooching anyhow. It’s all fun and silly, especially since some are more tolerant than others. . Pickles fell into the more tolerant group, soaking up every ounce of love until it dripped from his hair. It is beyond flattering for me to know that after all he went through in the earliest days of his life, he knew he could always trust me.
A couple of nights ago, we had a pretty nice bonfire burning out back, and Mr. Pickles laid it on thick. One minute he’d be cuddling next to me on the swing, purring his little heart out, the next he’d be playing jungle kitty in the grass. He chased around with the outdoor crew of cats, climbed the woodpile, sat on the picnic bench, rolled in the gravel…He was a regular cat just like the others, except when it came to making a Dutch-oven, peach cobbler. Pickles insisted on helping, even going so far as to lick the peach can clean.
Pickles went back outside with the others the next morning, and was likely playing jungle-kitty, stalking bees in the newly blossoming clover. It wasn’t good when I next saw him a couple hours later. Details aren’t relevant, other than to say that love couldn’t fix him this time. His story ended that morning, yet that same morning keeps playing over and over like a bad rerun for his MamaKat, his boys and his dad. Grendel isn’t having reruns, but he cries and sleeps by the backdoor, and cries and sleeps by the bathroom sink. He doesn’t know why he inherited his buddy’s collar.
A life is a life is a life. Nobody else may have recognized this in him, but we did. He has been, and still is, definitely wanted.
We’ll see you on The Rainbow Bridge, PicklePie.