Jul 3, 2009

Posted by in Family Life, Pets, Religion | 0 Comments

Two Kittens and Ten Months

July 3, 2009. Today is the ten-month anniversary of the death of my dad, Remo. This morning, I had a few moments where the loss was tearing at my heart. I was sitting in the living room, looking out the front windows, recalling a July day last year when I drove my dad by the house to see the way my husband, David, had landscaped the yard. Dad admired the new bushes, flowers and paver blocks.

This morning, my cats and my dogs were admiring the birds and squirrels who were hanging out in the front yard. While I was reminiscing, both of my cats happened to jump into my lap. As I snuggled with my “little boys,” I thought it was appropriate that they were sharing my bit of sadness. After all, they have been doing this for some months now.

October 7, 2007. October 4, 2008. Two dates, about a year apart. Two kittens, find their way into our home and our hearts.

I find the similarities in how my two feline boys came to be in my life to be of comfort. Both kittens entered my life at a time of high stress, deep sadness and big changes. Both have brought me immeasurable joy, as well as a sense that life really does go on.

On a fall afternoon in 2007, Jethro announced his presence to my husband on the docks of the Criminal Courthouse. He was a very young kitten, eyes still closed, crying for someone to care for him. That was the day our family became Cat People.

Several weeks and many kitten bottles later, this little guy was crawling around our home. He wormed his way into our daily life at a time when we were facing the imminent loss of my father. Caring for Jethro probably should have stressed me out even more, but instead, I found the routine of his feedings to be something that centered me days and nights. Having a sleepy, content kitten curl up on top of me was simple but beautiful way to find relaxation.

Our veterinarian gave Jethro a birthdate of September 26, which also the same day that my dad was hospitalized for respiratory problems related to his chronic kidney disease. Dad was sent home after several days, entrusted to the care of hospice workers and our families. We were told to expect 1 to 2 weeks. As is often the case, Dad lived and loved for another 11 months before going home to heaven on September 3, 2008.

During those months, I often brought Jethro to visit my dad. A few times, my dad was able to come to our house to visit with the little guy, and his canine sisters (Kelly, on the left, & Chelsea, on the right).

This brings me to this past October. A few weeks after Dad’s death, my husband called me from work with the question, “Would you like another kitten?” On that Saturday in October, Dexter came into our lives. We estimated that he was six months old and called his birthday April 5, 2008.

I know many family members and friends thought we were nuts for adopting another kitten – especially only a few weeks after the loss of my father. I found that adding this little needy guy to our family was just the thing to get me back into a routine.

Dexter was pretty scrawny. I could see his ribs. He craved attention and would purr loudly for me, as if to say, “Hey pick me up and give me some attention!” He was irresistible. I knew from the moment I first held him that he belonged with my family.

The next Monday, I took him for a visit with my veterinarian. Other than being skinny, he was in great health: no ear mites, no fleas, no feline leukemia. I had the poor guy neutered the next day. Within three days, he met the other cat and the two dogs. The four get along wonderfully!

Thinking about the last months of my dad’s life, along with the months since his death, has made me realize that Jethro and Dexter both came into my life for a reason. I always thought it was because they needed me and that is why God managed to send them to me. Now I’m thinking that it was more a case of me needing them – and I’m thankful that God really does give me what I need, at just the right time.

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