The Pets That Own Me

 

Two cats, a miniature dog, a teenaged boy, a husband and an neurotic-perfectionist of a wife all coexisting and learning to share space. I find it infuriating and amusing (depends on the day) that although my spouse and son have learned to avoid my space when I am irritable, my pets would rather ruffle my already rumpled feathers than show me any sort of respect. I feed and water them daily, keep their litter clean, provide veterinary care as needed, and offer my love to them constantly. In spite of all my efforts to provide a decent home, they show me that I am merely a resident in their lair.

Walter my 2-year-old tom cat, to say the least is unique. He likes to hop onto my bed, climb upon my chest and ever so gently outstretch his front legs slowly and land his paws on my face. Right. On. My. Face. I could have a book in hand, no matter, Walter reaches right over it. My husband is not the “cuddle the kitty” type. Often as he lay in bed, up comes Wally and walks over his bare chest and turns about as though plumping a good spot to take a load off. Clearly, no fear has Walter.

Macy, a six-year-old spayed feline with tolerance for no one still rejects the affections offered her by Walter.  She prefers to be left to her napping, eating and lounging regiment. Simplicity is for Macy. Odd is how we describe her. She wishes not to be held, but yearns for petting and responds in kind with the yawl of death. She watches her humans from afar as though to say “distance, keep your distance”.  She has a belly that hangs low, just missing the surface beneath her as she walks to and from feeding place to napping place to excrement place. This is the life of Miss Macy.

Walter has determined his most favored activity of late to be the torturing of Macy. He lurks around corners, sneaks behind inanimate objects and lies in wait for her next excursion through his quarters.  He will pounce her from afar and although she prefer to not engage in physical activity, she comes to life with a vengeance. Hissing and scurrying she fights off his attempts at playful encounter and retreats to a safer space. Walter will then look for entertainment elsewhere for a short time before returning to his quest in tormenting Macy.

Max, the alpha (and only) dog of the Manor, is Walter’s bff. To my amazement, they play and clean each others ears seemingly unaware of the difference in species. Max, or Dinky as we affectionately call him due to his miniature size, is 12 years old and a baby at heart. He is unaware of his senior status and his energy is unending. He is able to leap to my hip in order to grasp my undivided attention. He can still run at hypersonic speeds when called in from his daily out-of-doors excursions. All in all, he’s truly a youngster at heart.

This morning in my rush to get out the door on time, (again, unsuccessful) I smashed my thumb whilst crushing ice for a smoothie, spilled the powdered mix, overfilled the water jugs, and felt composure leaving my body. Max is jumping up to me and with every take he is poking his little paws into my thigh. As I urge Max to stop, I look to my left and there he is, atop the counter fully aware of his wrongdoing. Smug, looking right at me as though to say “whatcha gonna do ’bout it?”  I turn back to the sink, finish the botched job I had begun and see a small juice glass staring at me; taunting me. I filled it and unbeknownst to the offender, walked over nearer him and hurled the water in his face. Walter turned and leapt off the counter with a wet face and neck,  as he hit the floor and looked back at me with disgust and utter astonishment, I say “No Walter, I will not be messed with today”.

In some small way I won today’s battle, although I am fully aware the war will wage on and I am merely a servant and will never see a true victory so long as I choose to reside in Walter’s abode.

 

 

 

 

There She Goes…

 

I became a mother just before I turned twenty years old, my  future husband was only eighteen. We had both dropped out of high school in our junior year, and both had little going for us. We came from broken homes, ugly divorces and together vowed to not go the way of our parents. Come what may, we knew together was how we’d remain.

Born 3 weeks early,  in a blinding snowstorm on the first day of February 1997. She came into this world weighing barely 5 pounds. She was pink and perfect. Our beautiful baby girl. Frightened and full of hope we took her home and embarked on our journey together as a family.

We seemingly grew-up alongside our daughter. Learning as we went and following no particular guide. Mothering came so easily to me, my calling had been discovered. My daughter was the missing link I’d been searching for. She and I have been a team since day one. The old adage of “I’m not your friend, I’m your parent” never really applied to us. At times I attempted being just her parent, although time and again I failed. I would lose my temper, I acted childish at times and would even argue as though I were a sibling, with her.

The one constant my husband and I have with our kids has been brutal honesty. We demand it from them and they have come to expect it from us. We use inappropriate language. We don’t always sit down at the table together for meals. We have a sense of humor that many would call indecorous. We don’t entertain, nor do we go out on the town. We live in the foothills of Vermont’s Green Mountains, and are happiest when we are living simply and quietly away from the bustle of life.

Our daughter was and remains our claim to small-town fame. When you reside in a tri-town valley with a population of just over 1,700, people know and remember your every move. There were whispers questioning her paternity, questioning my ability to be a responsible parent. There were loud whispers betting on the collapse of our relationship before we even moved in together. We married when our first-born was two years old and nearly twenty-two years later we are happily, solidly, very much together.

Now we find ourselves faced with coming full circle as parents. We have raised our girl, watched her grow into a young lady and now she is preparing to spread her wings and go her own way. She tried going the way of college and found living on campus to not be a fit for her, she completed a semester on campus and decided to try community college instead. She then lived with her boyfriend for a short while and returned home to save some money and live with ease for a time.

I will watch her pack her room and sort through her childhood deciding what to take and what to pack away. I will once again prepare to choke back the tears as I watch her head out that door knowing I won’t be leaving the porch light on for her. I won’t come home to find her trail of belongings left like breadcrumbs for me. There won’t be peanut butter stuck to the side of a spoon or left beside her bed from a late-night snack. I won’t lose my hairspray, lotions or deodorants to the abyss that is her bedroom. I won’t complain daily to my husband or son of the messes she leaves and wonder aloud why she can’t simply hang her jacket on a hook, instead adorning the back of every chair with different style jacket. I won’t have a team member in the room to have my back on the debates of the sexes. I will once again be the one solitary feminine presence in the household.

With her moving will come newness to our relationship that we tasted for a brief moment once before. We won’t be bickering near as often, we won’t know the ins and outs of each other’s daily life and we will find ourselves feeling renewed in our friendship yet again. This is where our closeness in age will have it’s time to shine. We will have our phone calls and daily check-ins yet again. I will share my excitements and frustrations with her and she with me. We will become closer, no doubt in our distance.

They say having a daughter means having a best friend for life. I say that having a daughter has enhanced my life in ways I never could have foreseen. Being a mother, her mother, has brought my life meaning and purpose. In my daughter I have found the pieces of me that I never knew I longed so deeply to find. Now as she begins to embark upon making her own life; independent of her father, brother and I, we will watch with a wistful excitement and wish her to find all the joys in this life that she has brought to us.

 

 

 

 

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Accepting Time

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I have taken some time away. Time away from family, my sisters, my realities. I needed to detach in order to find some normal again.

My father left this earth suddenly,  completely unexpectedly and tragically two and a half months ago. I am thirty-nine years old, I still feel as though I am far too young to bury my Dad. I haven’t been able to listen to a lot of music, or watch certain shows. I have to turn my mind off at least fifteen times a day to stifle the tears that want to reach my cheeks. I have been angry, confused, bitter, and I have visited denial as often as weekly. I forget. For the most brief of moments, I actually forget that he’s gone. Then, like a punch to the gut, it comes rushing back like a freight train and hits me. Hits me hard. I can’t talk about him without tears yet, I can barely write about him without tears. I watch the dates on the calendar pass knowing that each day is one day further from the last time I spoke to him. One day further from his last breath.

Time is supposed to be healing, not a reminder of distance and pain endured. Right? Wrong. Time doesn’t heal. Time just passes, days become weeks, weeks turn into years. Eventually it will hurt less, the sting will dull and time will once again be a source of help not hindrance.

I want to share funny stories, little things that remind me of happy times and the life he lived as opposed to the life he left. Doing so is far more difficult than I could have ever anticipated. Time. In time I know this will come to me, I am confidant that eventually sharing the life he lived will be an honor to me and not a source of heartache.

I’ve read about the first year following a significant loss being brutal. I have friends and family members that I’ve watched go through the loss of a parent or spouse and I feel just terrible that I didn’t realize the difficulty that each day brought to them. The pain in their heart, the sadness filling their soul.

How tragic is it that only through death are we able to sometimes see the significance one has in our lives? We muddle through each day not responding to a text, not taking a phone call because we’re busy, preoccupied or just not in the mood. Death waits for no one. It gives no warning, no explanation, no reasoning. It takes what it wants, when it wants it and certainly doesn’t care about your busy life, your petty concerns or your moods. Death shows up when you’re least expecting it. It challenges your every fiber, encapsulates your existence and shows you what you have to lose.

Then life, it’s right there. Staring at you, taunting you, showing you that you must be present. Life waits for no one. You must either choose to engage, to show up or to let it slip by and miss all the wonders it has to offer.

I was ready for a moment to allow life to let me go, to let me release from its clutches and allow me to drift to the darkness of my own private misery. My Dad would hate that I feel this way, he would tell me to pick myself up, dust myself off, put my shoulders back, stand tall and get out there and live. My Dad lived. Every moment of his life, he lived. He made his own rule book and devised his own plays. He loved, he hated, he forgave, he engaged. He wouldn’t want to see me allow his death to sculpt my future.

I am now beginning to accept the mistakes I made, even beginning to say them aloud for myself to hear. I can feel myself coming up for air, cresting the surface of my life and deciding to participate. I am making myself a promise to find happiness in something each day, to see the beauty in the world around me, to be present in life.

Because a wise man once told me; today is the first day of the rest of my life.

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