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Posts Tagged ‘eternity’

Dear Readers,

Like a lot of life, I meant to get this finished and posted over a month ago.  But I have been back East twice during that time, with the second visit a final goodbye to my father…

I thought that talking about everyday kitty undertakings would be too mundane, too ordinary—my mood being as somber as it has been of late.  But then I thought, well, what better way to acknowledge the gift of the everyday than with a post about the everyday.  So here is that post, kept mostly intact with its original title:

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It’s mid summer, and the kitties and their humans have gotten into a routine.  Life is “normal”; well, as normal as you can get when you have two humans living with five felines.  Vacuuming should be constant, but I’m not a fan of the chore…  (And for those of you who wonder why the husband does not pitch in:  Roger’s domain is primarily house repair and outside maintenance—both ongoing, year-round activities!)  And then there is the continual changing of cat alliances and the breaking up of kitty skirmishes.   And the constant cleaning of daily hair ball pukage (yuchhh, gross).

Then there are, of course, the sweet routines:

Ø  Puffy supervising the making of the bed in the mornings.  Well, mostly he waits in a corner of the bedroom—patiently I might add—until I am roused enough to realize his presence.  Then he plops in the middle of the bed-making action and raises his rump sufficiently high to ensure rigorous rubbing.

Ø  Cuddling with the Tiggster at night on my office floor before bedtime.

Ø  Head nuggying (is that a word?) with Junior, chirping his way of happiness.

Ø  Even Blackie ensuring—through plaintive mews—that I don’t forget him during mealtimes.

And then there is Chewie with his food fetishes.  Zucchinis have been handled and are no longer left unguarded on the kitchen counter.  And this summer I’ve discovered that he loves… salad!   No iceberg  lettuce for him. Green leaf lettuce is a favorite, although he also has a liking for arugula, red leaf lettuce and mesclun.  I may not have seen the goofy critter for hours, holed up in some closet somewhere… but as soon as I start preparations for the evening’s salad, invariably up on the counter he emerges from nonphysical to inspect the progress—and to steal a leaf for munching when I’m not looking.  What an odd appetite indeed…

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This time of year, with the summer waning and hints of fall in the cool night air, has always been a special time for me.  It is particularly poignant as it will be the first time without my father’s physical presence.  Being a product of his generation and a survivor of The Holocaust, my Dad never truly understood my choices of creative output.  Yet, he loved animals—especially cats.  And he always asked about my brood.

So these moments of mirth—when the unexpected collides with the everyday during a time when I feel very sad, indeed—have been a wonderful reminder and acknowledgement of the gift that is the present moment.  A gift that is  fleeting, momentary—and never guaranteed.

I’ll end with a video snippet of my father from 2009 (I was testing my former BlackBerry’s video capabilities) talking about my parents’ cat, Lilly.  He just loved and spoiled that cat!  She died two summers ago… I’d like to think that my father and Lilly have now reunited on the Rainbow Bridge to cross together into eternity…

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=706895239323913&set=vb.100000103308560&type=2&theater

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And the leaves that are green turn to brown,
And they wither with the wind,
And they crumble in your hand.*

As we approach the last hours of late autumn, a few remaining golden and crimson leaves cling to their branches, struggling valiantly against the inevitable return to dust.  The crunch of fallen brothers and sisters, whispering in the wind the promises not kept yet not forgotten.  And a time, too, of spectacular sunsets, filling the autumn sky with hues of blue, pink and gold.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven…**

For me, autumn has always been a season of reflection, remembrance…and transition.  It was this time of year in 1993 when I realized my first marriage was truly over, and with it the broken promises of a life by which I could not abide.  And as of late, my parents’ situation seems to have stabilized—for the moment.  But now my father is also presenting with Alzheimer’s symptoms, and my mother is firmly entrenched in stage two.  Both my parents have now entered the final chapters of their lives, precariously perched on the threshold between here and … beyond.

A time to be born, a time to die…
A time to laugh, a time to weep…
A time to dance, a time to mourn…**

The ongoing saga of the outdoor ferals is a poignant reflection of this cruel reminder of life’s precariousness.  Of the half dozen cats that were once regular visitors during mealtimes, only Mama Girl, aka Sluggo—the feline mother of four of our indoor kitties—remains.  It’s now been nearly two months since we’ve been graced with the liveliness of Orange Kitty.  I saw him last the evening of Saturday,  October 20.  And Sylvester (Chewie’s baby daddy) has been AWOL since mid summer.  One warm evening he showed up after an absence of many days, seeming sad and alone.  He ate the meal we put out for him, and by next morning he was gone.  Why can’t they just stay and enjoy the largess that is our haven for them?  But no, these outdoor cats are compelled to explore and to roam.  And to meet their fates, no matter how harsh and heartbreaking it may seem to us mere humans.

With the acceptance of the transitions of Orange Kitty and Sylvester, an era is slowly closing.  It’s now just Mama Girl.  She comes around regularly during meal- and snack-times and spends overnight in the heated garage.  And yet in the morning, off she goes to explore the great outdoors, because she must.  And thus a return in the evening is never guaranteed.

Yet our indoor kitties continue to do well, oblivious to the changes to their external world.  As long as we keep them warm and well fed, their lives continue in a comfortable, purring love-fest.

In fact, we have just recently celebrated a significant autumnal moment:  on November 24, we rejoiced in Tigger’s five year anniversary of his adoption (yep, the only furball we actually sought out).

While completing the paperwork at the Denver Dumb Friends League, I remember gazing into the bright yellow eyes of this beautiful, perfect three-month-old kitten.  Tigger returned the gaze, full of expectation, adventure, impishness, love…and trust.  Trust that I would take him home, love and care for him.  Be his forever caretaker in a world that is both beautiful and harsh.

And I also remember thinking that there will be a time—perhaps in 15 or 20 years—that I will have to say goodbye to this wondrous spirit.  And for an instant I became overwhelmed with heartbreak and pain…  Roger then indicated that the paperwork was complete, and I got pulled out of my momentarily morose reverie back to my current, joyful reality.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven **

Ok, no need to practice heartache, for in a world of opposites—of yin and yang—there will be an abundance of both pain and pleasure.  Many years ago I took a ten-day Vipassana (insight) meditation course.  One of the major key points I gleaned from this experience is that humans create even more suffering by one of two means:  by wishing that the present painful circumstances be different from what they are, or by desiring that the current joyful moments stay with us forevermore.   We humans just can’t seem to accept that our realities are in constant flux.  That there will be seasons of great joy as well as dark sorrow.

Perhaps here is another lesson we can learn from our furry companions:  they are creatures of the moment.  They do not worry about the future nor ruminate about the past.  They experience their moments vividly, viscerally.

Despite our best efforts, we don’t have a patent on certainty.  Just like the feral kitties, we go out every day to explore and to play in this game called life.  Depending on the season, we might feel this game is rigged.  Or we might experience an unexpected win.  No matter.  We fully expect to return home every evening, to the blessing of those we love and cherish in this lifetime.  And for every day except our last—when me make our final return to the home that is the infinite—this expectation holds true.

 

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*  words from Simon and Garfunkel’s, “Leaves That are Green”

** Words are adapted from The Bible, Book of Ecclesiastes; music by Pete Seeger; The Byrds’ single made it famous

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Cats have this wonderful way of just being—of being present to the present.  At times, I truly envy this ability.  Cats can just enjoy the cool, refreshing breeze as it whispers a kiss across their whiskers…bask in the healing warmth of the late afternoon sun, chasing the rays as they slither and shimmy through the cracks and crevices… Momentary pleasures or pains.  Fleeting as they are, but pass as they must …until the next moment beckons for attention.  Feed me!  Love me!  Play with me or leave me be! 

Cats exist in the moment.  There is no yesterday—nor do they anticipate tomorrow.  There is no crying over past injustices or fear of future betrayals.  There is no need to obliterate the present with mindless activities or substances… 

What a wonderful life lesson—truly experiencing the present.  And being both an observer and active participant in all sensual aspects of this plane of existence—the sights and sounds and the smells, tastes and touch.  In this lifetime, I have come close to quieting my mind long enough to give me hope that there is more to this corporeal reality, but I have yet to “grok” this concept—which seems so ephemeral and just of reach… 

In this sweet spot, the union of the earthly and the divine, I imagine you have the potential to tap into—or at least touch—eternity.  You get a glimpse of existence much greater than the boundaries of your own flesh, blood and bones.

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