Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ode to Angel

My dearest friend and cat, Angel, died Tuesday, January 27, 2009. She wanted to go out on Saturday night, January 24th. She did not come back in when I called her. I decided to let her stay out, since the weather was clear and she had ready shelter on or under our porch. She never returned on Sunday or Monday.

My neighbor found her Monday afternoon in his driveway. He thought she was hit by a car because she was walking so 'funny'. She is missing her rear right leg, so she walks sort of sideways, with her tail pointing right as ballast. He called animal control and they took her to the animal shelter. He did not realize she was mine. Monday evening he rang our bell and asked if our cat was missing, then told us what he had done. I called the shelter but the message said they do not take messages or give out information on missing animals on the phone. They said to come in between the hours of 10 and 5.

Tuesday morning – right before I got there at 10:05 - the Vet euthanized her because she was vomiting blood and had a tumor. She would have been 19 years old in March.

Jer and I started out at 9:30 Tuesday morning. We made one stop along the way to drop off a letter for Mother Baby Center at a donut shop (where my son works). As we pulled in to the curb, a customer kept mouthing something to me. Turns out he was saying we had a flat tire! I cannot remember the last time I had a flat tire! My son helped Jer put on the spare. Still we were on our way to the shelter by 9:55. We got there a few minutes after 10 and Angel was already gone!

An aid told me that Angel could not get warm when she came into the shelter on Monday afternoon, so the aid took her home with her and slept with her Monday night. When she brought her in to the shelter Tuesday morning it was clear that Angel did not feel well. I guess they had determined she had some sort of tumor on Monday. When she started vomiting blood the Vet made the decision to euthanize her there and then. If they had known I was coming, would they have waited?

I am grateful to the aid who provided Angel with comfort when I could not do so. Everyone at the shelter was so kind, saying, "I am sorry for your loss." My poor sweet beautiful Angel kitty.

I keep replaying her last days and the fact that I wasn’t with her at the end. A friend said perhaps Angel was trying to spare me the last days of her life. I wanted to be there for her and with her at the end, just like I was always there for her during her life. We had a funeral for her. Me, Jer, and the grandkids, Crystal (8) and Jordan (5). Crystal drew a beautiful picture of Angel with her 3 legs, smiling with hearts all around her. It is framed and on the mantle in our living room. I made a grave marker out of a large flat stone with a piece of driftwood on top. The wood is painted with Angel's name and Ripley's name (our dog who is buried next to Angel) and an Om sign and some hearts.

Angel was a semi-wild cat who chose me 18 years ago. She lived with 30+ other cats around a house that backed onto the same alley as my work place. A mean dog had mangled her back right leg when she was a little kitten. The other cats kept her warm until the owner discovered her under the house and took her to the Vet, who removed her leg. After that she was almost completely wild, letting no human near her.

Our office manager noticed all the cats in our neighborhood and started putting out food for them. Angel was one of the cats who would come to eat on our back porch. One day she looked pregnant, and then soon she looked thinner. Our college intern follwed her when she left our porch and discovered her kittens. We found homes for them and asked the owner if we could have the cat spayed. She said no and told us the cat's name was Angel. We had been calling her Tripod!

The next time she got pregnant, she decided to have her kittens behind my computer desk. We made a box for her and the kittens. This time we asked for donations when we gave the kittens away and used the money to have Angel spayed. We didn't ask permission. Angel took to sleeping on my desk under the desk lamp. If I tried to pet her she swatted or bit me. I adored her.

When I left that job I left Angel there, because I didn't think she would want to leave that neighborhood to move in with me, my family and my 2 dogs and one cat. But three weeks later the health department said Angel had to go, so she got to come home with me anyway. She adjusted quickly to life in our family. She was a successful hunter and a loving companion, as long as she dictated the amount of petting. Slowly but surely, she became more and more tame.

She has been with me ever since. She has moved from the house by the lake to Mark's house to the little red house to the house on Cherrywood with Jer and all his three dogs and now the big green Victorian on McKenzie. She slept at the foot of my bed. She asked for scratches on her neck where her missing leg could have reached. She liked to sit in one place and swat our blind Pomeranian, Fancy, as she circled around and around. Each time Fancy came near Angel she would get a swat. It was one of Angel's favorite games. Fancy begged to differ!

Angel was a beautiful tabby cat with brown and black markings, a white chin, and lovely tufts of fur in her ears. When I had a session with a pet intuitive a while ago, Angel made sure to tell Barbara about her white chin and ear tufts.

Angel has been my constant companion, my best friend. And now she has gone, I know not where. Hopefully, she has exchanged her 3 earthly legs for true angel's wings. I love and miss her so. Via con Dios, Angel!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Swearing In Ceremonies

I swear I will not dishonor my soul with hatred, but offer myself humbly as a guardian of nature, as a healer of misery, as a messenger of wonder, as an architect of peace. (Diane Ackerman)

Recently Barack Hussein Obama was sworn in as the 44th Predisent of these United States of America. In fact, he was sworn in twice, because the Chief Justice mixed up the words during the inauguration ceremony. It got me to thinking about promises we all make and oaths we take in our lives. How can we make them more than mere words?

Tha above quote from Diane Ackerman came to me from as part of their email program, Word for the Day. Many of their quotes give me pause, but none more so than this one.

I have decided to take this oath every day, each morning as I start my day. I offer it to you and to President Obama. It is not as formal or specific, like swearing to "defend the Constitution of the United States". But it says so very much more to me.

It uses words like: guardian, messenger, healer, architect. Most important it uses the word humbly. I am touched by this attempt to align oneself with nature, wonder and peace, and to move away from hatred. I read the words and I want to live up to them, be worthy of them, have them engraved upon my soul.

Perhaps by sharing them here they will begin to spread. And others will take them up as their oath, their words to live by.