hide and seek with a kitten finds a sister

by rebecca on May 30, 2010

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       Today my altared space is a cat named Nutmeg who died 20 years ago. I pet every dog that goes by, but I’m not a cat person. Yet here I am, at Best Friend’s Animal Sanctuary with the kitties.

       This is because I love a cat person. There are three of us: myself, my daughter and her friend. Friend is the cat lover. Just now I find myself holding a cat leash because the caretakers took pity on my allergies and placed me outside where I could do some good by the cats and my friend without sneezing too much. My daughter is outside too, holding the tissue box.

       A lizard crosses our path and the pounce is on! Red desert dirt flies as paws flurry.     I laugh. My daughter laughs. Our laughter tangles in the sun scorched scrub oak as do the kitties. And while they rest from the excitement, I tell my daughter about Nutmeg, who, ages ago helped me to meet my step-sister.

       “The first time I met Aunt K she was eight years old and I was seven. Aunt K had this brand new fuzzy kitten just weeks old with a white and gray face. That kitten helped us become sisters.

       “We played with him on this carpeted tower with peepholes. He could emerge and pop his head out, like he was playing hide and seek.”

       “It must have been weird to meet your sister,” says my daughter. She’s thinking about the pressure to like each other I think. It’s an astute observation I hadn’t really thought about.

       “I think we were sort of playing hide and seek too.” I say. “It’s pretty intense to have your parents dating while you watch. That’s when you want to hide. Nutmeg gave us the chance to do that. We played with a kitten and became sisters while our parents fell in love.”

        I was a guest on my dad’s date. That tumbling kitten put me and the girl that would be my new sister at ease.

       We slept together in a single bed for the next ten years. Nutmeg crawled under our sheets and sounded like a motorcycle in the distance with the mighty roar of his purr while his claws flexed and extended, first making us scream in pain, then squeal with laughter.

       When you are seven years old and your parents are doing all the weird things that go along with dating like flirting and taking extra long picking out clothes and asking you (little tiny you) if they look alright as if you are a mirror, the welcome of a kitty who tumbles and plays and hides in a carpeted tower is bliss.

        I didn’t know that night, but would soon learn, that the sister holding the kitten would be the reason I would play for the next ten years. Even now, I delight in giggling with her. She chases away the boogie men in the night.

       At Best Friends Animal Sanctuary they have a monthly blessing. During this time they remember the animals that have died at the sanctuary and allow those present to talk about pets or people who have “crossed the rainbow bridge.”

       Near the end of the ceremony, guests are invited to choose a stone and take it to visit one of the vast multitudes of graves present at Angel’s Rest.

        I love rocks. I look into the vast array of hand painted stones. I choose one and begin to walk. It is a beautiful place, surrounded by red canyon walls and hung with wind chimes. The tomb stones are so neatly cared for. It is easily the most spiritual cemetery I’ve ever entered.

       With thousands of stones spread out before me, I cross maybe six dozen when this one catches my eye.

 

       A grave marker at the end of the row says someone’s Nutmeg was buried here. Frankly, this is a little weird.

       I came to this place because my daughter and her friend needed a chaperone. They are not yet old enough to volunteer here alone. This is not my gig. Plus, I am not a cat person, I like dogs. If I’m going to have a meaningful moment at an Animal Sanctuary, shouldn’t it be about a dog?

       But this is Life for ya. I think I’m extending myself on behalf of someone else and Gratitude for the sister I have and the kitten who helped us bond comes flooding into my veins.

       I am stretched when I spend time with people who are different from me, doing things not quite up my alley. I re-remember myself. Thank you daughter’s friend for begging me to pet the kitties. Thank you Best Friends for the chance to walk a cat, chase a lizard, and find a stone. Thank you Nutmeg for playing hide and seek and helping me to find my sister.

 

       Have you ever volunteered doing something and remembered something ancient and forgotten? Who are the people different from you that stretch you to pet cats when you are a dog person? Or wade through rivers when you are land locked? Or read books when you are a movie critic? Has an animal ever helped you to strengthen a human relationship?

This is Sissy playing hide and seek. She chases lizards in a minute. She looks a bit like my Nutmeg and this image might be what inspires the story to come falling out of my mouth.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Stacia May 31, 2010 at 10:21 am

Animals (we have cats and dogs) calm me and help me feel peaceful (when they’re not throwing up on the rug or eating my shoes, of course). There’s just something about their spirits that are so genuine and gentle.

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Yvette Francino June 1, 2010 at 12:28 am

I probably am more of a cat person than a dog person, but my son wanted a dog, so now we have a very disobedient shetland sheepdog named Chloe. My sister had a shelty as a child and I remembered the Lassie-look-alike. Chloe, frankly, is a major pain. Our neighbors complain at her barking, so we stress over bark collars and keeping her indoors. She jumps, she misbehaves, she sheds, she tracks in dirt and mud. But she also has the sweetest eyes and will crack us up with her wild antics, especially when she goes into “hyper-mode.”

I suspect some day in the future when Chloe is gone, I’ll see a shelty and think of her and remember the beautiful, crazy, mischievous dog that I grew to love.

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SuziCate June 1, 2010 at 8:07 am

What a lovely story. Thank you for sharing. Animals have a way of connecting us, don’t they? I have had cats and I’ve loved them, but in this stage in my life (for the past ten years and probably forward) I am absolutely a dog person. I love the companionship and loyalty they offer. I find cats entertainling, but they just don’t make me gush the way dogs do! This was an insightful and delightful tale of memory, connection, and chance.

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Amommymous Blogger June 1, 2010 at 9:04 am

I’ve been in the situation of trying to bond with new family… there is so much pressure! I too am not a cat person, but my affection for Nutmeg increases knowing what an integral role she played in helping bond your family together. Very cool story.

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Eva @ EvaEvolving June 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

Yes, you and your stepsister were played hide and seek too. I love that!

“I am stretched when I spend time with people who are different from me, doing things not quite up my alley.” I need to remember this and say “yes” to things I’d rather not. I need to push my limits.

I just love how pets can play such a role in our lives. Amazing.

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joely June 2, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Fate and a rock brought you back to Nutmeg. Well written story. I wondered had you forgotten about how Nutmeg brought you and your step sister together and was reminded that day? I have had moments where a smell or touch bring me back to a specific memory that I had thought I had thought I had forgotten. Interesting, is it not, how there is so much stored in our brains that we do not even know about.

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rebecca June 4, 2010 at 8:08 am

Stacia,

It’s true that our animals are often making messes as well as bringing comfort!

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rebecca June 4, 2010 at 8:10 am

Yvette,

Sometimes we don’t realize how attached we are until we experience loss. I know that feeling.

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rebecca June 4, 2010 at 8:12 am

SuziCate,

Do you know if there was any particular experience or change in your life that made you switch from cats to dogs? I know what you mean about the loyalty factor in dogs. They just stay at your side even when I’m ignoring and neglecting the promised walk.

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rebecca June 4, 2010 at 8:15 am

Amommymous,

I’m curious which end of things you’ve been on when trying to bond with new family. Have you been one of the kids or an adult trying to unite two sets of children?

There is indeed so much pressure, but family itself, no matter how you get it configured, is a bit of a pressure cooker. Nice that there are good memories to be had from all that heat!

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rebecca June 4, 2010 at 8:16 am

Eva,

Yes, I don’t always like the stretching while it’s happening, but I love the after-glow.

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rebecca June 4, 2010 at 8:18 am

Joely,

I think it’s not so much that I had forgotten it had happened, just how valuable a cat had been in my life. Because I’m not a cat person I think I’d had a bit of a distain for cats. This experience helped soften those rough edges and helped me remember that it was actually a CAT that brought me one of my treasured relationships.

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Janet Hurd June 5, 2010 at 8:14 pm

I really loved reading this. What a special place and a lovely story. It made me think of my beloved Siamese Cecil who crossed the rainbow bridge this March at the age of 20. We had a special, long life together.

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rebecca June 6, 2010 at 7:07 am

Janet,

I’m sorry you lost your cat. 20 years makes for such a bond. I do think you would like Angel’s Rest. I hope you will get a chance to visit there some time.

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SuziCate June 8, 2010 at 8:24 am

Our cat died at almost 21 years old and not having to deal with a litter box for a few months, we just decided not to get another one. Then our dog died and we got another one. I’ve just enjoyed the carefree love from the dogs. My cat was sweet but tempermental. She had been a stray and trusted us but never became a lap cat.

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