Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Extremely Playful

"Extremely Playful"
That was the sign I missed next to the cage at the Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago back in June of 2003 when I went to pick out a kitten as a playmate for another kitten I had found.  He was alert, active, and I put in for his adoption.  Several forms, a class on correctly "disciplining" your cat, and all the usual checks to make sure my landlord approved, I had the appropriate income, and confirming payment of the neutering and he was mine.  
That's when I noticed the sign... and he lived up to that warning.

I chose the name Winston Churchill after the cat in "Pet Semetary."  Although, unlike that cat, I called him Winston instead of Church.  He was more of a Winston.  And, I like to say his name suited him because he was a pistol.  At that time, he was 11 weeks old and I introduced him to Sofie who was the same age.  They became friends and have been life-long companions.

He was my source of joy and frustration during that intern year.  Mostly joy; although I didn't appreciate finding my figurines and picture frames being knocked over when I came home after a 24 shift at the hospital.  But, he was always there with a purr and a head butt.  His spot on the bed was right behind my knees.

My husband taught him to jump up on his shoulder.  He was also the one to introduce Winston to the first snowfall every year.  Winston did not appreciate the snow plunge but somehow always came back for more.

White Bear Lake, MN

Winston was well-travelled having made the move from Chicago to Boston to Minneapolis and the suburbs outside of St. Paul, to Buffalo and then finally here to California.  We almost lost him in a truck stop about 2 hours outside of Chicago.  I was transferring the cats to the car because they were starting to get agitated in the moving van.  Winston panicked during the transfer, escaped the cat carrier, and ran through the lot.  I found him under a semi hiding in the tire well.  Thirty minutes later, both of us covered in dirt and axel grease, I had my cat.  I wasn't going to leave without him.

Buffalo, NY

Ferndale, CA - now an outdoor kitty at last...

I called him my "big brute" because he was such a large cat...
and because he would push Sofie out of the way to get the cat food
whenever they were fed.

At 16, he was still the "greeter" and came out to see everyone when they arrived, but his age was showing and he wasn't doing well.  We knew it was time to say good-bye.

A couple of days ago, I went looking for a spot.  I picked out a place just off a grove of pine trees.  It's at the top of a hill leading up from our house.   I call the area "Nori's Grove" after a friend who died.  I have memories of her coming out of the trees carrying an armful of mushrooms.  So it's named after her.

Yesterday, I climbed onto the tractor and learned to use the back hoe.  There's something cathartic about digging a grave.  It gave me an outlet for my grief while creating the place for Winston.
I know even my husband got kinda misty while we dug.

This afternoon I wrapped Winston in one of Momma's soft blankets and together my husband and I carried him up the hill.  Despite his recent illness and weight loss, I couldn't believe how heavy his body still felt.  Even in death, he was still my big brute.

We set two log stumps on top after flattening out the dirt.  My husband is going to take one of the planed boards he has and is going to make a bench.  I'm going to make a marker with a cross with Winston Churchill's name on it.  We joked about using some of the cat food cans that he loved and making a sculpture or art piece of some kind.  We'll see what I end up doing, but 
I love that it can be a place for rest and quiet reflection.

Winston has crossed that Rainbow Bridge where 
I'm sure he was met by Lacey who died last year.
I can only hope 
I gave him a good kitty life.

Winston Churchill
March 2003 - August 2019

Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Four Monthiversary

They're still sitting there:  a rose from my mother's burial wreath and her handkerchief that I had in my purse on the day of her funeral.  The funeral planner made boutonnieres for the pall bearers from the white roses in her burial wreath.  This is the rose my husband wore.  After the funeral, as we were driving back to the house, we took the flower off and for a while it sat with the handkerchief in my center console.  Then I moved them to the door where they still sit. 

Four months.... can it really have been four months?  Some days it's fresh in my mind, like it just happened yesterday.  Other days I don't think about her at all as my mind is filled with the events of the day, but then something triggers a thought and it all comes rushing back to me.  

There's mornings where I wake up earlier than my alarm and my thoughts are filled with her, with the choices I made, with her final moments.  And, I find I can't go back to sleep.  There are nights when I am saying my prayers which always include a special prayer that Momma is in Heaven and that God continues to watch over her.  Then I can't sleep thinking about that last week, that last day, that last hour, that final moment when she breathed her last.

How can she be gone...?  And why do I feel like she's really gone, like there is no after life, like she just blinked out of existence... When my uncle died I could feel him around me... the same with my grandmother as if she was just out of sight watching over me... but now, I don't feel like I feel or sense her at all.  Is it because I can't visit her grave easily?  Is it because I don't have a sense of her presence?  

There's a part of me that wishes she had been cremated then at least I'd have something physical and tangible;  something to carry around and talk to.  Maybe that's why that rose and handkerchief are still sitting in the door of my car.... in a way it's a part of her that's still around... 

As for her room and clothes and things... that will still have to wait a while longer too... her smell is still there, at least I have that as well...

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Birthday Month Shuffle - 7th Edition Day 31

"Ay ay, ay ay" basically pronounced "eye eye, eye eye..."
Funny how I still hear it in those quiet moments
where it sneaks up on me unexpectedly.

My mother was having periods of delirium during those last days in the hospital.
Basically, "ay" in Spanish is like "ow" in English.
We would ask her if she was in pain.
We would ask her if she needed something.
We would ask and all she would respond is
"Ay ay ay" over and over.

On that last evening that she was in the hospital ICU,
I sat down next to her and tried to calm her as she seemed to be
getting more anxious and agitated.
It's one of those situations where you don't know what to do
or what to say and her continuous cries of "ay ay"
were starting to drive me a little crazy.

Finally, on another one of those "ay ay ay" spells,
I leaned over and softly sang back, "Ay ay ay ay, canta y no llores"
which literally translates to "sing and don't cry."
She stopped for a moment, and then started to say "ay ay" again,
but this time I joined in to start singing again,
and she started to sing along with me...

It's a song most Mexican kids learn at some point.
I've known this song since forever.
And, now, it's the song that reflects the last time I sang with my mother,
and the song she was buried to.

I had asked a school friend who sings beautifully to sing at her burial ceremony,
and I brought up this song.
She wasn't sure about the timing, and she sang the other two songs
I had chosen so beautifully, that I didn't even think we needed this song.
But then, as the lift with my mother's casket was raising up to the height
of her mausoleum space, my friend's beautiful voice started in with
"Ay ay ay ay"
and she sang the song as the casket was placed within the tomb 
and the workers settled and sealed the marble slab front.
Her timing was perfect.
Sing and don't cry.

The song technically is a love song,
but for me it's now a song of my childhood and my culture
and a final tender moment shared with my mother
during her last moments as I tried to calm her fears.
Maybe she knew then what I wasn't allowing myself to think...
that she would be dead within a few days.

The translation:
Ay ay ay ay
Sing and don't cry
Because by singing you make happy,
lovely Heaven, the hearts

From the sierra, dark
lovely Heaven, are coming down
a pair of dark eyes, lovely Heaven
smuggled in

That birthmark you have, lovely Heaven,
near your mouth
don't give it to anyone else
it belongs to me

Thank you, again, for joining me this month
as I celebrate another birthday month!
I promise to try to write more...

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Birthday Month Shuffle - 7th Edition Day 30

Like I've said in the past, I have a very eclectic taste in music.  I find music from soundtracks, TV shows, walking down the boardwalk in Wellington, NZ, etc.  One of the newer music genres in my iPod shuffle is K-Pop which is Korean Pop music.

While I don't have a lot of K-Pop on my iPod, today's song is the song that really started it all back in 2012 and introduced it to the world.  Now there are a lot of tunes out there, and maybe next year during the shuffle I will share some more while doing my birthday blog shuffle.


Also, we live close enough to the Oregon border to have a lot of University of Oregon
ducks fans... here's a parody video they did which is pretty funny...

Monday, July 29, 2019

Birthday Month Shuffle - 7th Edition Day 29

Back in another post, I mentioned that I had not gone to many concerts,
and that a-ha had actually been the first concert I went to.
It wasn't that I particularly liked the band, more that my friends did
and it was just a way to spend a fun evening with them.

I can't say I knew any of their songs except for this one...
still it was a great evening with friends.

I love this video because it is symbolic of when MTV was really
all about music videos, and they were still such a novel
idea that singers and bands held contests to create their music videos
and a lot of creative thought went into the video.

A lot of famous directors got their starts doing music videos
as well as choreographers got to show their talents.
This song is just one of many that came out in the 80's,
but I still think the video is iconic of that time...
great memories..!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Birthday Month Shuffle - 7th Edition Day 28

So today's song is "Beds are Burning" by Midnight Oil.  It first came out in 1987, and I remember loving the beat from the beginning.  It was only later that I learned the history of Western Australia and how the local aboriginals had been removed from their homelands so that the Australian military could test fire missiles.  From what I read, it seems like the aboriginal people have been able to move back to these native home but no apology or recompense has been given to them.


Saturday, July 27, 2019

Birthday Month Shuffle - 7th Edition Day 27

I'm sure a lot of people have stories about the "one that got away..."  I often thought as a young adult that there were 2 or 3 that got away.  But, now that I've been with my husband for the last 20 years, and with the wisdom of age, I can see that all those other experiences led to my being with the man I was meant to be with...

Still, sometimes you wonder... what if...? I wonder if they think of me ever...?  and, again, what if...?
I sometimes think about those things when I hear this song... and a part of me would like to meet some of those 2 or 3 people if only to realize that maybe I found the right one after all...

Enjoy this live version of this song... I like that he mentions those that have gone before us... yeah...