Monday, December 16, 2013

A Thing Called Hope

Every morning my deaf cat Bax greets me when I come down the stairs, the house cold and dark. He looks at me intently, those blue eyes focused solely on me as though I am the love of his life. It's rather sweet...but I know what he wants...and it isn't love.

It's food.

When it comes to love, Bax prefers Jace. Or Roy. He doesn't like me so much which, in my opinion, is weird. I'm a cat lover--always have been. My dad recognized my love for cats and so when I was about ten years old, he brought me home my very own cat and I named him Pepsi. We always had family cats--lots of them. But I come from a family with a farming mentality and that is that animals have a purpose: horses are used to round up cattle; dogs are used for hunting; cats are used for mousing. So we weren't really raised with this notion of fostering a deep attachment for our pets. As a result, we kind of went through cats like water, sadly. I won't mention how many of them came to their demise...but once I had my very own cat, I cared for him deeply and made sure that he came inside where he was safe. I fed him and played with him. I loved him.

Around Christmastime of that same year when I was ten, my dad was in a horrible carcrash in Oklahoma City in which he was lucky to escape with his life. He ended up in the hospital for a couple of weeks and because we kids were still in school, we were shuffled around. It was a scary, lonely time. I was already an insecure little girl. I was one of those awkward children that wore popbottle glasses with frames that were too big for my face and clothes that were practical rather than stylish. I preferred playing by myself as I didn't know what to say in groups, relying heavily on my sisters to carry the ball even at family events.

And so I found myself at my parents' best friend's home that Christmas--Jackie and Norman Louthan. I don't know where my sisters were staying during that time, but what I do remember is that on this one particular evening, the Louthan's were having their family Christmas. I sat over in a corner on a chair and watched them pass out gifts to each other, feeling awkward and alone and so very out of place. They were laughing and enjoying each other, enjoying the tree and the sparkle and the season while I worried and fretted and wondered Is my dad going to be okay?? when suddenly Jackie came over with a gift and handed it to me. It took me completely by surprise, woke me up out of my reverie. I had no idea, didn't expect it at all!

Thank you!

And when I opened it up, it was a ceramic cat, standing about a foot tall, white with pink ears and blue eyes--a piggy bank that goes unused to this day.

I loved it.

That cat meant so much to me that evening. It meant that I was, in some small way, included as part of a family. It meant belonging and acceptance. It meant hope.

And so, I took it home and my dad came home. He could barely walk but...he came home.

One day, a few months later, my sister's boyfriend grabbed the ceramic cat and threw it down a tiled hallway as though he was using it as a bowling ball and it's head came off. "Noooo!" I cried, grabbing its lopped off head and futily trying to reattach it to its body.

"I'll fix it," Dad said. And using super glue, he reattached its jagged neck to its mismatched jagged body. It didn't look quite perfect was good enough.

Thirty seven years later that ceramic cat still sits by my side of the bed. Its not quite as white as before. Its ears are barely pink these days and if someone looked at it, they would probably wonder why in the world I keep it around. But it still means so much to me.

It still means security and belonging and acceptance.

It still means hope.

1 comment:

  1. NO WAY!! That is what that cat comes from?! That'll be the relic you can pass down to the grandchildren. I'll take it!


Diamonds Everywhere

I read a study recently that said that greatest single indicator of a long life well-lived is deep social connections. Of course, there are...