Before continuing with gardening stories(which has produced several green salads and just last night the first 'mess' as my grandparents would have said of green beans), I had to write about Bogeysattva or Whopper Jr. as he was called when we met a year ago.
If you've kept up with my Musings or know me personally, you'll know I wrote of Mystery's coming into my life just prior to Valentines a year ago.
Has happens with children so often, I've already noticed how Bogey has fewer second kitten photos than Mystery did as first cat. I could not pass up Bogey's first year anniversay in my life without a story. I write this for my own good. Story reminds me of what's important as well as how life's mystery is ever present and desiring my engagement if only I'm paying attention. Mine and Bogey's courtship was a lengthy one orginating prior to our having ever met.
As Templeton, my cat of eighteen years was making her exit in January 2008, I spontaneously called Jean Houston early one Sunday morning. Having heard her speak of her dog Zeus' love of cherrio oats in the morning, I wanted to share with Jean how important these rituals are, not just for the animals but for ourselves. (Templeton's no longer being at the bedroom door awaiting my morning attention nor my not cradling her as I was accustomed as I walked downstairs were my first realization of important these rituals were to me. And it felt too late.)
I got Jean's answering system, Jean herself, very early on the Oregon coast and began to share with her my ephiphanies. Jean ever the teacher very quickly explained that if I wanted to see Templeton again I should begin to talk with her about the fact that she was going to rehab in the Great Beyond where she would get a new body and fourth paw since she only had three in this lifetime. Jean conveyed a sense of urgecy as she said I should only do this if I wanted Templeton to eventually return. I began the conversation immediately.
Good-bye became preparation for hello as my sorrow shifted to anticipation of getting to meet Templeton in her next lifetime in this lifetime. I felt like a mid-wife of sorts explaining to Templeton that she was going to a place of healing after which we would meet again preferably sometime after my Memorial Day birthday in a few months. I asked that she give me a sign of sorts so I would know 'it' was her and not end up adopting the wrong kitten. Templeton died in my arms a few days later. Just as I told her during her passing, mourning doves arrived within minutes of our burying her and commemorating her importance in our lives. These were not typical mourning doves doing their usual pecking around for fallen seed beneath the feeders. Instead they came and sat surrounding Templeton's grave while one stood on the rock wall at the back of the lawn sentinel like as the others sat in silence for at least half an hour.
Two weeks passed and Mystery arrived totally unexpectedly. I never intended to have a cat prior to Templeton's return, yet thanks to the lessons in Templeton's passing, I opened my heart to Mystery and the mystery - or so I thought.
May's eventual arrival prompted a nervousness in me. What if I missed Templeton? My anxiety increased everytime I looked in the newspaper in the animal adoption section. I wanted to strike a balance between being awake and aware and not being negligent or trying to orchestrate the situation. This was going to be tough. There were so many kittens available. I realized I did not specify where our meeting would take place. Often on my birthday I could be found in Oregon. I quietly feared Templeton could be found there wandering the rocky beaches of Bandon seeking me while I was in Tennessee scouring the newspapers, going to kitten adoption centers and the city's shelter.
I'll never forget stopping by the Cat Shoppe in early May to buy Mystery's food only to discover Spring is when the shop is filled with kittens needing homes. This day I walked in to find Plexy, Morty and a myriad of their pals running about the story. Plexy, a tiny ball of gray fur, had been heard in the wall at a local government complex (thus the name Plexy) and rescued just days prior. This could be Templeton's mode of return since she had years prior gotten trapped into our floor joists overnight during a renovation project and I heard her meowing in the floor which ultimately led to our finding her. I watched and wondered. Plexy played with a pal that had been found under the hood of a parked car when a customer had taken her car into her mechanic for work. I began to make daily excursions to the shop to watch Plexy and her playmates as well as hold feral kittens which weren't able to roam freely just yet. None of these kittens felt like the right one nor gave me 'the sign.'
One day I panicked fearing Templeton might be awaiting me across town at another shelter while I'm holding cats in the wrong zip code. I drove to an adjacent town to hold kittens; I looked on-line at kittens, but none felt like Templeton. One morning I opened the paper to find a photo of a kitten that I just knew was her. I raced to the shelter to be there at opening only to find myself being cut off by a woman in a car repeatedly who I determined was heading to the shelter to get Templeton herself. Alas I arrived adn the woman did not. I asked for the kitten in the paper only to learn the photo was of a kitten adopted a week prior.
Then there was the day I heard from a neighbor that a liter of kittens had been born on Kirkwood nearby and all had been adopted out quickly. What if Templeton had been born on a street related to my name and I was so busy trying to find her that I missed her right under my nose? What if fear and not trusting the process had kept me ultimately from Templeton's return?
In the beginning of my search, people would inquire as to what type kitten I was seeking. It took time for me to eventually confide that I was looking for my deceased cat whom I had asked to return. The first time I said this the listener said, "I've done the same thing .... and I finally found my cat." After this, everytime I shared what I was really doing, I received a beautiful story of how the listener had done likewise. The only time this had not happened was when someone told me they had sought their returned dog.
My birthday arrived and Templeton had not. Of course I specified she show up after my birthday but I had grown weary and feared I would not find her. I was actually playing golf on a Thursday after my birthday when I thought, 'Templeton should be here by now.' The next day, a Friday, I went to the Cat Shoppe one more time to no avail.
That evening though, a panic arose in me. I knew I had to find Templeton's first photos. There she was not looking at all like her adult self but instead looking like a little gray tabby which I had forgotten.
The next morning I awoke still panicked. I could not go out of town hiking as planned until I returned to the Cat Shoppe. I couldn't explain it. I knew from the evening prior that there were no tabby's at the shop but I had to return. Jerry the most patient man on earth just encouraged me and said take your time.
I entered the Cat Shoppe that Saturday morning just past ten, to find Whopper Jr. the tiniest gray tabby with his butt and back to me sitting on the entry rug. He took my breath as I exclaimed, "Where did he come from?" A customer found him at Burger King the night prior and left him at the cat shoppe door overnight. Chris, the store owner, found him still sitting at the door that morning. Whopper had his sights on new friends and not me. Everytime I tried to talk to him, he walked away. His only interest was play. I scooped him up and asked if he was Templeton to which he refused to look at me or give me the sign. I held my breathe as a little girl walked in and played with him. I feared I was witnessing Templeton's being snatched from me without having an opportunity to be certain it was her. I was so relieved to learn the girl's father had cat allergies so she couldn't have a cat at home. Her grandmother brought her to the shop to get her cat fix.
This was the beginning of our month together during which time I would race off to the Cat Shoppe as soon as my work day ended and squeeze in time to hold Whopper Jr. or be ignored by him as was the case. I would discretely walk around with him trying to make him look at me or lie on the floor with him on my chest hoping he would give me the sign.
What was the sign? I had asked Templeton upon her return to suck on my neck like she had done as a kitten the life prior. (I thought this was the dearest thing when I had first gotten her until the vet explained if I didn't wean her I would have a full grown cat leaving marks on my neck for all my friends to see.)
Whopper refused to even look at me let alone get near my neck. He just wanted down to play with friends. He was like the kid in class who made friends with everyone. He never met a stranger except for me. I continued to visit but tried to remain open to other adoption options as new kittens arrived. Yet I always inquired as to Whopper Jrs. status when I spoke with Chris at the shop.
I was a month out from my birthday when I realized I had my sign. The one thing that Templeton taught me in her passing was to always pay attention to and care for my heart. She was speaking to me this time entering my life just as she spoke upon departing months prior. She was using the heart's language. I had gotten my sign a month prior when I followed my intuition and went to the shop suddenly that Saturday to find Whopper Jr. awaiting me. My heart had not put on the brakes, I had. I had my sign. Yet not trusting my heart, it was on the verge of giving up on me.
I will never forget the afternoon I backed from my driveway enroute to get Whopper now known as Bogey. Ever since I was a child, I've wanted to make the world a happier more peaceful place. This particular day, as I started the car, I thought, 'The world may be filled with all kinds of distress at this very moment, but I don't care because I am following my heart and that's all that matters in this moment.'
I drove to the Cat Shoppe feeling free and filled with joy because I was following my heart, saving myself and thus adding to the joy in the world.
In case you've forgotten, how could anyone resist the cute little face peering over the arm of the chair (Templeton's favorite place). Yet resist I did. I resisted getting attached and the ultimate heartbreak that's part of being involved with living. I've known so much sorrow from silent heartbreak. Come to think of it much of the sorrow has come from heart brakes, not saying things I wished I had said to those I loved or love out of fear. Maybe that's one of the biggest mysteries....what if the world is healed or 'saved' through heartbreak and not heart brakes !!!
This is what I love about story. I didn't realize any of the above until writing it this very moment. This is what I love about digital cameras. I can share two more photos ensuring a 2nd cat gets equal time to the 1st. I'd be remiss to not add: Read about Mystery's entry into our household in the Feb. 09 post titled "Jumping Jacks of Joy" and -ponder the healing of the world through heartbreak! Love, Dawn
Bogey climbs his first Christmas tree only to discover it's artificial. 'What kind of tribe have I been born into?' he quietly wonders.