Archive for August 1st, 2009

01
Aug
09

the gift of the magae

In my last post I told you all about Bennie and Bella and the joy they are to me and my family. As a child I loved cats, but my mother was frightened of all four-legged creatures. Despite that, my father brought one home once, when I was about 7 or 8. I had her for about a month, all the while knowing how much my mother actively hated her. One day, when I came home from school for lunch I couldn’t find her. My mother had given the kitty away, but claimed that she had run away. I was heart-sick about it—heart broken. I think it might have been my first such experience of loss. I knew my mother was not being truthful and the relationship between us suffered ever after because I could not trust her. I don’t think I could have responded any differently than I did as a child. The kitten had been my solace in a lonely world of blond, blue-eyed Americans. Once grown up, I filled my life with cats, to be sure, and even had a talk with my mother about the incident. She was sorry, I forgave her but we could not go backward in time. We both missed out on a trusting relationship between us.

When I learned that my friend’s family was going to welcome a cat into their home…an orange tabby no less…I was overjoyed for the children, especially the middle daughter who seems to yearn for her own place in the sun. (It’s hard to be a middle child.) I asked and received permission to post a drawing she had done of Jack the cat and he is below, at the very end of this post, watching over us all with grace and peace.

Also posted here is a little story called The Gift of the Magae, that my daughter wrote for me about 10 years ago.  She changed my childhood story to one with a happy ending. Although it is not quite biographical, it is a sweet little story and a sweet thing to do.

The Gift of the Magae, by Darling Daughter

Once upon a time there was a little girl named Merry, who grew up in Chicago during World War II. She lived in an old house with her parents, her two older sisters and a brother. During the summer, Merry and her family went to Lake Michigan to swim.  They took vacations in St. Joe Michigan and went to Armenian picnics in the park. Merry and her friends had lemonade stands and held scrap metal drives to raise money for the war effort. (Merry’s family were not Mennonites!) In the winter, she and her sisters listened to radio shows after school and went to the Saturday cinemas. But Christmas was the most magical time of all; Merry and her family would take the trolley downtown to see the decorations in the big department store windows, shop and have lunch in the Walnut Room at Marshall Field’s. She always looked forward to getting a new doll for Christmas. Sometimes, Merry and her sisters got to decorate the Armenian Christmas tree at the Museum of Science and Industry, or even see the toy train set in the there.

Merry was happy except for one thing: she dearly wanted a pet, a warm, furry creature all her own to love and hug. Many times Merry had asked her mother for a cat, but she had said no each time. “Oh, Merry, what do you want that for? It’s dirty, it will scratch the furniture and scratch you too.”

“Please Ma I really want a kitty,” she said.

But the answer was always no. Merry tried her father, who looked at her as if she had lost her mind: “A WHAT! A cat, are you crazy? An animal in the house, no! Go do your homework,” he said.

“But Maureen Finley has a cat,” Merry begged her father. He gave her an annoyed look and sent her off to do her homework.

One day in the late fall, Merry’s sister came home with a small bundle for Merry. “Look what I found, Merry. It begged me to bring it home to you.”

“What is it…a kitten? Oh, thank you, thank you Faith,” Merry cried. “Ma, please can I keep it, please?” begged Merry, as the small bundle of brown tabby stripes nestled into her arms.

Merry’s parents grudgingly allowed her to keep the kitten. Merry was overjoyed with her kitty, which she named Mittens. She fed it every morning before school and in the afternoons when she came home. She brushed Mittens and played with her, and at night, the cat slept on her bed in a tight curl of fur. Merry and her kitty were very happy.

A few weeks later, Merry came home from school to find her tabby cat was gone. She called and called for it, she  looked in every nook and cranny but still could not find the cat. “Ma.,” she asked, “where’s my kitty? Have you seen her?”

“Oh, she ran away,” replied her mother casually.

“What, that’s not possible! You took her, you got rid of her, you know where  she is, you never wanted me to have it,” Merry wailed in helpless fury at her mother. She was inconsolable over the loss of  her furry friend and cried for days, but there was nothing she could do.

Christmas Eve came and the family prepared to decorate the tree and bake the paklava and lamb for the night’s dinner. Merry was helping her sister cut out paper chains for the tree garland when she heard a faint scratching noise at the  back door. She ignored it and bent her head back over the red paper, but…”scritch, scratch” there it was again. “I wonder what that is,” she thought and got up to look outside. At first, she saw nothing in the fading afternoon light and was  about to close the door again when she heard a tiny mew from behind the door. Merry stooped down and saw a cat. “No it couldn’t be,” she though… her kitty cat? She held out her hand and the kitten came close and rubbed against her hand. It was…it was her tabby cat! She had miraculously found her old home and came back from where ever she had been.

Merry picked up Mittens and brought her inside. She showed the cat to Faith who promised she would talk to their mom. Merry gave Mittens some food and she was soon purring happily in Merry’s arms again.

Faith was true to her word and convinced her parents to let Merry keep the cat. Her mother kept her promise and made Merry’s favorite desert to make up for the loss of her cat. Mittens lived with Merry and her family for many years, bringing warmth and fun into the old house. Merry grew up and had more cats in her life but she nevver forgot the wonderful Christmas and the cat who came to stay. The End.

This is Jack the cat, a lovely drawing by my dear friend’s middle daughter.  I think he is quite grand and will soon come out to play.

Jack by JillHe hopes middle daughter will understand his shyness and wait for him to get used to his new house and his new people.

01
Aug
09

the joy of four orange feet

My first year of cancer remission was not filled with joy and gladness. I had an oncologist without any bedside manner whatsoever and referrals to doctors whose characters resembled his own. In short, while the side effects lingered and I had no where to turn for help, I became very depressed. One day my partner (Big Dawg) and I drove by a Homes for Endangered and Lost Pets mobile and we decided to stop in for a breath of fresh joy. Well, how can you resist two darling little kitties with perfect markings and teeny, tiny meows, not to mention sweet tempers and loving dispositions? We couldn’t and I couldn’t and they brought me joy, plain and simple. They still bring me joy, especially the little girl kitty who is beautifully orange with pink paws and such, just like an orange Creamsicle?

I believed then, and I believe now that both kitties—Ben and Bella—were gifts of God for the Journey before me. No one who lays eyes on Bella can deny her charm. She brings out the idiot voice in me and my family. Bennie is a bit different…busy with his cat career of eating, sleeping and waiting for the day when he can get out and catch a bird or chipmunk. He is the one who walks across my desk with total assurance that he may. Bella jumps up with total expectation that I have been waiting and hoping she would do just that. And how can I say no? No one in this house says no. If Bella wants to lie across the keyboard, we just type with one finger until she decides her nap is over. We are blessed to have her warm, furry body close, warming the very cockles of our hearts.

Is this insane? To some it would be, but to me—an orange, four footed, gift of God is a gift to treasure. The memory of those dismal days, without adequate medical help is stored in my left brain, along with the more recent oppressive church events, and you already know that joy resides in the moment. Kitties are of the moment. We love them.

Ben&Bella Oct. 07

01
Aug
09

finding joy

Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist who suffered a massive stroke, studying it as it was happening to her.  She has recovered and is now a spokesperson for stroke recovery. During this time her left brain hemisphere with its sequential orientation hemorrhaged, leaving her to perceive solely through the intuitive  right brain. Without the ego oriented, left hemisphere, she experienced an enormous sense of deep inner peace and knowing that brought her a sense of total connectedness to all life, formed and formless. This was an experience of enormous joy—a nirvana, if you will.

Joy (she says), because it occurs in the right hemisphere, cannot be stored as memory in the brain.  Memory is a left hemisphere function. The right brain does not store, it is the stage upon which the light show occurs. Because the world we live in is essentially organized in a male dominated sequence of left brain function, this is important information for we, glass-half-full (GHF) intuitive folks. Perhaps we’ve allowed the left hemisphere too much real estate in our skulls…allowed it’s inhibiting fibers to dictate a more linear consciousness. Since we predominantly right-brain individuals can’t store joy… can only feel it in the moment that it’s happening… perhaps we’d be well advised to pay more attention to the flashes and beams of light, love and fancy that come our way in any given moment of any given day! It’s not only the big stuff that counts, it’s also the tiny little things flashing by: watching my cats at attention while the bold chipmunk outside the screen porch prances by; feeling the sunlight streaking through after the rain. Those things are simple conveyors of joy. Blip, and they are gone.

Being predominantly a right-brain, GHF person, I should make note of this epiphany  and practice greater awareness of those moments, be grateful that I am not naturally over run with left hemisphere fibers and recognize that Grace abounds.  Maybe  I can, through greater awareness, grow those moments…weave them into whole cloth every now and then.  I can’t store it, but with effort, I can remember that they happened. That in itself could be joyful…maybe I could create my own rainbow in the dark of the half-full glass.

I can say to all those who suggest we GHF persons just think happy thoughts: Thoughts are not where joy resides and happy is not joy—just the container. After this is an advanced course in allowing joy a seat at the table of sadness or suffering. Sun




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