Monday, March 15, 2010

Morning Coffee with an Old Girl, Broken Tail, and a Crybaby

It’s early and my morning routine is nearly over. I wake up with the rising sun; my internal clock seems to know when that is no matter how dark the room is. Two of my dogs, Maya and Grubb awaken with me and when I’m ready to get out of bed they are ready to go, as well. We leave the the bedroom quietly so as not to wake up my husband, John, who is able to sleep for one to two more hours. I take these two dogs outside; sometimes our oldest canine, Zeke, is ready to go then, too. As I head back into the house three of our numerous cats (we run a rescue operation) that are allowed inside: Broken Tail, Crybaby, and Old Girl are standing by the door. Sometimes Old Girl, 17 years at last count is already inside if she decided the night before she wanted a cushier sleeping place. As I make my coffee the three cats mill about. I then return outside to get the newspaper and greet several of the other cats along the way.

By the time I return to the house my coffee is ready. After making a cup just the way I like it I sit in my corner rocker and begin to read the paper. The cats find their spots, usually Broken Tail or Crybaby secure my lap, while Old Girl sits near my feet waiting for a scratch on the head. When I get up for my second cup of coffee, the two oldest ones follow me into the kitchen; they know a small saucer of milk (not too much as it’s not good for them) is poured and one after another (they are not good at sharing) they lap it up.

While I sip my coffee and continue with the morning news, the cats settle once again. This time, Crybaby finds her spot on an old cushion on the floor to my left. 

Broken Tail sits atop the discarded papers I’ve already read, and Old Girl jumps upon the side table right next to my shoulder.

As I read and drink I’ll reach over and scratch her behind the ears. She isn’t one to climb into my lap; she never was one of those kinds of cats. In fact, her attachment to me now is one I find comforting and astonishing. Old Girl’s story is an interesting one.

She was born, along with her only sibling, a brother, in 1993. Her mom, Hazel, was found wandering in a field just days before she delivered her litter. We were in New York at the time but in a week were headed back to Las Vegas, driving across the country with an already animal-filled van. What’s a couple more? Besides, it seemed Hazel had decided we were her “people” now. So, they came along with us. Hazel was an amazing mom; she only left the kittens to go use the facilities – that being whatever side of the road we happened to stop at. She never went too far from the van and always returned promptly to her babies. Poor Hazel died back in New York when we had once again made the state our temporary home. She’d lived a good, if not long life with us and left us with great memories of that black and white beauty.

Hazel left behind only one of her offspring. When we first moved to New York (this was 1997), we stayed in a camper on my brother’s property that bordered a corn field. One day the brother of Old Girl (which of course wasn’t her name back then) went into the fields and never came back. His sister pined for him as they were very close. I think the sibling bond is what kept her from needing human affection. It was very sad to watch her wander around, lost and looking.

We returned to Las Vegas a few years later and once again she, and whatever new animal acquisitions we had, came along with us. My animals are family; I could no more leave them behind than I could one of my children.

It is now 2010 and Old Girl, whose original name has been lost, is in her last years. She is still spry and healthy. She can still give a “whack” to the upstarts that dare to get in her way. She has decided that I am allowed in her personal space, though, and I see it as a privilege. As I sit here with her by my side I feel a deep connection to her and her story. I will miss her when she passes on, but there are plenty of others who will take her place. I will think about Old Girl ten and twenty years from now as I sit with my coffee and my paper and keep company with Broken Tail and Crybaby as we all will be in our twilight years. Until then, I will continue to enjoy my morning routine with my very dear friends.


ajgallion said...

What a peaceful and rich morning you create for yourself. It's inspiring & the cats look quite content.

Anonymous said...

How wonderful that you think of your animals like family. I'm that way, too. Often, when people move, they leave their pets behind. I just couldn't do that and I'm glad you took them with you.

Animals are a gift. We are to learn from them, and they from us.

I have a similar morning routine, but my cats are much younger than "Old Girl". When it is her time, I hope she goes peacefully.