May it be written

October 2, 2012

The ten days between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipper, are called the days of atonement since we are to ask for forgiveness not only for our own misgivings, but for the rest of the world as well. We do this even for those we don’t like, even our enemies, since we are all children of God. Thus, it is a time to assess our lives, be grateful for our blessings and to ask for a sweet year – one represented by health and happiness.

While sitting in synagogue on Rosh Hashanah, happily listening to the sound of the shofar during the morning service, I noticed something in need of attention. The cloth upon which the Torah (the Bible in Hebrew) scrolls were being read was old and faded. It just didn’t seem appropriate for such a revered setting. The curtain covering the box or Ark of the Covenant which contained the other Torah scrolls was beautiful, deep blood- red velvet, with deeply embroidered design. In comparison, this table covering didn’t match up and was sorely in need of replacing, in my estimation.

My mind began working. As the words of the service passed by me, “We ask for forgiveness for…” my thoughts went, “I wonder how much fabric and trim would be to make the Rabbi a new table cloth for the Torah scrolls?” And then I continued, “But should I even think of such a thing? Maybe the fabric will be too expensive for me. Or, perhaps I won’t buy the right kind of fabric for such an important undertaking. “And, “Who am I to think that I could make such a cloth worthy of the Rabbi and the synagogue?” Then, I came back to more positive thinking and decided to wait until the end of the service and ask the Rabbi for his opinion.

“Rabbi, am I allowed to make you a new cover for the table where you read the Torahs?” I asked. His face brightened at the thought, since he recognized the state of his current cover and although he was a modest person, he seemed happy at the prospect of a new one for his simple synagogue. He responded that yes it was fine. I qualified my offer with being able to find fabric that I could afford and that was appropriate. Before I left, he came over to me and again mentioned the cloth. I knew he approved of my offer which made me smile inwardly. Since it was a religious holiday, I couldn’t do any serious measuring. Thus, I merely used the length from my wrist to my elbow knowing that it was approximately one foot. This is how I figured out the size of the cloth to be about six feet by six feet.

As I left the synagogue I said a little prayer, “God, if this is something that I’m supposed to do, help me find fabric that is suitable that I can afford.” I fixed a price in my head. When I went to the shop to actually look for fabric, I told the shopkeeper of my creative project and he began to help me. I couldn’t find velvet in the right color so I had to find another alternative. The shopkeeper went into this work room and came out with a gorgeous tapestry fabric that looked quite regal and contained the deep blood red that would match the synagogue’s Ark curtains. The only problem was that it was on the small side. I then figured out that about 12 inches all around would be a good border in a gold color and would add enough fabric to be the correct size. As luck would have it, he came out with a  bolt of gold dupioni silk. There was exactly 2 yards left on this bolt and when we did the calculations, it was just enough to add the border! Wow, the two fabrics matched together beautifully. Then I needed gold tassel trim. The shopkeeper found some trim and gave me a good price. Since the other fabrics were end of the bolt, he gave me a remnant price. All together the price came to exactly half of the figure I had had in my head for fabric that would have been several hundred dollars retail. Including my work the tablecloth would be valued at close to $400. I was very happy.

Next came the construction of the table cloth. To say it was a labor of love is an understatement. With the added work of the border and the fact that I wanted to line it (I just happened to have lining material at home), it took me close to 30 hours of sewing! In the end, the Torah scroll table cover turned out beautiful, the Rabbi was thrilled when I gave it to him in time for Yom Kippur, and I felt like I had done a mitzvah (good deed) to be sure. In addition, I wrote a dedication to my father’s memory on the lining which the Rabbi said was very special.

My creative project turned out to be divinely inspired, guided and blessed. Hopefully, I’m forgiven for any transgressions over this past year. But, rest assured, I didn’t do it for that reason. I did it because I felt the urge and decided it was the right thing to do.


Another Circle of Life is Complete

February 5, 2012
 

Judas and Hercules come full circle

A circle of life that started almost 18 years ago was completed on Friday when we picked up the remains of my red tabby Judas and laid her to rest. I had already bought a keepsake (4”) cloisonné vase similar to the one holding some of the ashes from her brother Hercules (4/5/11). The one for Judas is white with flowers, while Hercules’ vase has a blue design. They will drape a box holding their collars and which also has a photo of the two of them when they were fur babies.

Fulfilling her life lesson

Hercules lasted almost 17 years and Judas had an additional ten months. She had that time to complete her life lesson to be independent since she’d been subservient to her brother while he was around. She let my new rescue cat Skylar know who was boss when he came on the scene last October. He was only allowed to get so close. They took turns lying next to me on the bed during the night until she lost her strength to jump up that high. In the end, she didn’t care where Skylar was. And, she just wanted to be left alone. It was this behavior that triggered me to know the signs of her being ready to depart this physical dimension.

How brave she was

Amazingly, she never cried even though the squamous cell carcinoma (oral cancer) that wracked her mouth must have been painful. She was stoic until the end. I gave her pain medication on the advice of her doctor so that she could be as normal as possible during her last days.

Judas lived her life according to her rules and didn’t want to be bothered with fussy treatments like sub-Q fluids or forced feeding. So I had to just let her tell me when it was time to say good-bye. When a blood vessel in her lip burst on Tuesday January 31 and the bleeding just wouldn’t stop, I knew the decision was in God’s hands. Judas was not meant to see February. Events fell into place quickly with me taking her, aided by a dear friend, to be put to sleep and then cremated.

A lovely ceremony

Judas Celebration of Life Service

Being an ordained interfaith minister, I wrote a celebration of life ceremony to remember Judas, similar to the one that I’d done for Hercules ten months prior. Her service was on a lovely winter day, at 2pm. It was sunny and about 50 degrees with the days before and after being much more dismal weather. The ground was soft due to the rain the day before making digging a hole for her ashes easy. God’s plan was in play and all went smoothly. I read a letter that I’d written to her extolling all her virtues and how much I loved her. Then my friend and I buried her ashes next to the same rock where we buried her brother’s remains last year.

Together again

Now the two of them, Hercules and Judas are reunited body and soul to play in the meadow together waiting for me to come at Rainbow Bridge.

Another circle of life is complete.


The Second Time Around

November 7, 2011

Just to recap, in my last blog article, I noted that I had to give a cat rescue back as she had a biting problem. This scenario occurred at just about the six month marker of my darling Hercules’ passing. I totally believe in synchronicity and when I got the itch to get another cat as a fur pal for his sister Judas, I went with the feeling. Ok, so the first try didn’t work out for her, but it did work out for the foster lady and for my coaching her. All wasn’t for naught. It just wasn’t the right situation for Judas.

My initial reaction after this mean cat was out of the house was, whew, I’m so glad it was gone. However, the itch to get another cat as a companion for Judas didn’t stop. Perhaps it was Hercules in spirit letting me know it was time since I really felt him guiding me to another cat that coincidentally looked a lot like him. Initially, I didn’t like the idea of getting another cat that reminded me of my precious angel, but I went with what I sensed would be best for Judas.

How did I pick this new rescue cat? I did a thorough search of the available rescues within 50 miles for about 2 weeks, looking at what must have been hundreds of photos and even talking to some people about the best gender and type for a fur pal for my 17 year old female. I was advised to look for a male about 5-7 years old, since a younger cat might be too rambunctious for an older cat, and a female, as I had found out before would be too competitive. Whereas before I had looked at the outside beauty of the animal, this time, I looked at the face to determine how sweet and sensitive I felt the creature would be. After all, beauty is only skin deep. My prior experience with Athena taught me that although she was a gorgeous Tortoise shell, she had a really mean disposition. This time, I looked at the temperament first and that he should just be healthy.

Out of so many, one became a clear choice. His name was Spike and he is a brown tabby with a white blaze down his face. He just looked so cute and sweet. Somehow I knew he was the one. Next, I contacted his foster and began the process to meet him. The rest went well. His foster family had him with two other males for the last three years. This was both good and bad news. He had never lived with a female but he had shared a 10×8 cat house with two other male cats. Ok, so he knew how to share. I was willing to take a chance on him. He’s a sweetie, but all didn’t go well right away!

More on how he adjusted in the next article.


Admitting Defeat – Well, Almost

October 19, 2011

In my last blog article I wrote about how I asked God to send me a pet and one showed up. I fully believe that the right thing is the one that works out. Sometimes the whole picture isn’t known at the time or there’s more to the story. Here’s what happened.

The Divine Plan was at work

Yes, I let my pet sitter know that I was ready to welcome a fur pal for my 17 year old Judas who lost her brother to chronic renal failure in April (six months ago). And, yes, this cat rescuer had a beautiful tortoise shell female that I fell in love with. Well, I loved the exterior package and, as we know we can’t always judge a book – or a cat- by its cover. As it turned out, this cat was very pretty, but it had a mean disposition.  Although I kept it in a separate room for a week as I was instructed to do and I went into this room daily to play with it, I didn’t feel like we were bonding. Sure, the cat would come to me when I opened the door to get petted and for some treats, but that’s just because it was alone and wanted company. But after a few minutes, it had had enough and would whip its head around and slap me with the paw.

We don’t always know the whole picture

I kept telling myself that this was normal for a cat that had been on the street for awhile and had to get used to kind treatment. Then when she bite me I drew the line. Meanwhile, Judas knew the cat was in the house and didn’t like it at all. Judas was screaming day and night. The combination of her reaction and my experience made me come to the conclusion that this wasn’t the right animal to adopt. I had to back out of the agreement. Luckily, the cat rescuer told me that sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Whew!

But the right thing was happening

I really felt bad about the whole thing. I had started to get invested in this beautiful cat. I gave her a new name – Athena; bought a gorgeous crystal collar and name tag, as well as some new toys. Everything was salvageable except the name tag, a small price to pay for what would have been a very bad situation if left to continue.

I checked in with guidance and realized that the whole experience with this cat happened for several reasons. (1) I learned that I had to give affection on this animal’s terms and not mine. Ok. (2) The cat rescuer was going through some tough times and we had the opportunity to talk. As a result of this interaction, she decided to come see me as a client. This was good for her as well as for me. So, in the end, the right thing had worked out for all concerned.

 

 


God, Please send me a pet!

September 28, 2011

 It’s been five months since my fur baby Hercules crossed over to Rainbow Bridge. Both his sister Judas and I miss him terribly. Sometimes she stands at the front door, which has a glass center pane, looking out and just cries wondering when he will return home. I come down the stairs and try to explain to her that I miss him too but that he isn’t coming home.  “Let’s welcome another fur baby who doesn’t have a home into our lives. It will help us heal while, at the same time, help a lost creature find a new home.”

I had helped my friend find a new pet two years ago by searching on the internet on animal rescue sites using the criteria he gave me. After several weeks, I found a two-year old male Virginia hound that was stated to be friendly to cats (after all there was his beloved Sherman to consider). So he went to the pet fair and met his soon to be Shelby, short for General George Shelby.

How can a pet find me?

This time, I wanted a pet to find me. When my Hercules and Judas were babies, they turned up at my house, then in a more spacious neighborhood allowing for the possibility of wild cats leaving their young. So, my guys found me and how lucky they were to find such a welcoming Mom! I wondered if such a thing could happen around a townhouse in a more compacted area; most probably not.

Help is close by

I told my pet sitter that I was ready (or thought so) for a new fur baby. She loved Hercules after caring for him for 12 of his 17 years and also understood my at trepidation about bringing a new pet into the house with his sister being an older animal like Judas.

Then she said, “One of my petsitters rescues cats and she has a new one available. I replied, “That’s great, but I’ve decided that I want a tortoise shell after seeing some young ones around the lake on my walk”. There’s a woman with 12 cats and some are tortoise shell or tortis, but she won’t part with any of them.

A new fur baby finds me

To my surprise, my pet sitter says, Her new rescue is a tortoise!” Wow! The writing was on the wall. I knew immediately that this cat was coming to me. The timing and the situation seemed to be falling perfecting into my lap so to speak. I felt that the universe was guiding me to this particular animal. I asked for the contact details and called the woman, Cathy and things just fell into place from there. I was able to visit the cat and found out what I needed to know. The torti was a female, about five years old, had just gotten her shots and appeared quite healthy. She was playful and seemed friendly to me. I immediately agreed to adopt her. Due to her golden markings between her eyes, I named her Athena, after the Goddess of Wisdom. (The sixth energy center is just between the eyes and signifies the energy of wisdom and psychic understanding).

My new fur baby

Athena would soon be mine after a very careful adoption process. More in my next posting.


Five Days Without My Baby

April 17, 2011

It’s been five days since my little boy Hercules crossed over Rainbow Bridge. Since then, there’s no one to wake me in the morning, so I sleep too much. I awaken tearful and my heart in pain without his dear touches on my face, “Mommy it’s time to get up”. There’s no one to interrupt me during the day to say, “Stop and let me love you”, so I just keep working and working. There’s no one to say, “Feed me, I’m hungry”, so I don’t realize that I’ve gone all day without eating as food doesn’t seem important. There’s no one to tell me to sit and watch TV so we can be together on the sofa, so I feel isolated in my aloneness. Hercules isn’t here to say, “Mommy, come to bed now. I want you to sleep with me”, so I stay up too late. And the cycle goes on. My life has a huge hole in it. I have to learn to manage my own life rather than have it managed by my love for this little angel that left me.

Hercules, when did it happen that you grew up from being such a little baby to getting so old and dying? Is this what it’s like to see children age? I’ve never had children so I’ve never had the experience of seeing children grow up. Hopefully, most parents don’t have to endure the passing of their own children. With pets, they just don’t live that long. But 17 years is close to 1/3 of my life. Hercules lived with me through the end of my marriage, through my divorce and through the years since. He’s weathered my trials and tribulations and he’s been a trooper through it all.

There were times when I wasn’t as patient as I should have been with his constant demand for attention. Sometimes, when I was working in my study, I would tell him, “Not now, Mommy has to work.” Isn’t this what parents do, thinking that there will be more time when they can be together?” There comes a point, when time runs out.

Last year when he lost a tooth I realized that the time just might be running out and I began to thank God every day for each additional day we had together. Every day I held my angel in my arms and told him how much I loved him. He knew every day how much he was loved until the dementia clouded his mind. Then I think he still knew somewhere inside. Even on the last day when he walked around in circles, he still wanted to be with me, have me hold him and so it was a good day. The final moments were good. He ate well and yet we both knew it was time for him to pass on.

As I sit here typing this note, I’m crying for my baby. But now he talks to me in my head. He tells me, “Mommy, don’t cry. I’m ok. Mommy, go out and play. I don’t want you to be sad. I have lots of friends here to play with. It’s a nice place. Please be happy. Enjoy your life. I will watch over you now as you did for me all those years. I love you Mommy. “

I love you too Hercules. I hope that God is looking out for you and keeping you in the light. You are a dear angel and I know that if it’s possible, you are looking out for me.


When it’s time for a pet to go

April 8, 2011

How much life is enough?

When deciding when to let a beloved pet go, one must consider their quality of life over one’s own feelings. This is an extremely difficult thing to do and a trial on which I was tested this past weekend.

For nearly two-months my dear cat Hercules was battling with chronic renal failure including anemia, dementia, possibly tumors and a host of other ailments. We would get one of his major issues under control and then another would pop up. He was on fluids for the renal failure which I learned to administer. Then his red blood cell count took a nose dive and thrice weekly shots were required. He needed four different medications twice daily and some natural remedies which I found to be helpful. All this I learned to deliver in as reasonable manner as possible, partly through trial and error. Which meds could be taken together and given in one syringe? Which ones tasted funny thus requiring a bit of ground up food be mixed in to camouflage the taste? I experimented until I had worked out a program that took about 2 hours in the morning and about 1.5 hours in the evening.

Hercules

I curtailed my own activities to make sure I was home in time to do the evening medical program, including having my birthday dinner at 4pm so that I could be available. I didn’t mind taking care of my little darling. After all, for nearly 17 years he’d given me love, companionship, and reminded me when it was time to go to bed and often woke me in the morning. “Mommy, get up and feed me.” “Mommy, pet me.” “Mommy put food in my bowl.” Often, I’ve hear him outside my home letting me know he wanted to come in and then he’d cry to tell me he wanted to go outside. He was a great communicator. Unfortunately, once he got sick, he lost his voice. Or perhaps, he was too weak to use it.

 When the time comes:

During one of our several emergency room visits, the attending veterinary technician gave me some advice. Having just put her dog down, she said in response to my question of, how do you know when it’s the right time? “When there are more bad days than good ones.”  Then she added, “Be sure to pick a good day.”  Her words kept ringing in my head. I was evaluating my pet’s life. Was his situation bad enough to end his life?

 When yet another crisis occurred over the weekend, I had to face the reality. The pattern of problems was a sign of the inevitable. It was like putting one’s finger in the dam. Eventually, it wouldn’t hold the flood of water back. Hercules loved me so much that he was stoically dealing with the needles, the meds being popped in my mouth, the forced feedings because he knew I was grieving. I was crying so much. I didn’t want to let go.

 There’s a sense among pet owners that one more intervention will get the pet over the mountain and on the other side with renewed strength and vigor. And, sometimes the new medicine or protocol does buy weeks or months of life. But for my Hercules, the non-stop care bought him 7 weeks of added life. However, I realized that he had no real quality in that life. Sure, he was alive. He could walk down the stairs, but no longer up (his heart wouldn’t take it). He could lie in the sun at the foot of the stairs, which he enjoyed. However, I had to watch him constantly or he would end up in the lower level just sitting on the bathroom mat since he couldn’t walk back up again. Sometimes he’d eat on his own, and sometimes I had to force him. He hated being force fed.

 Then there was the dementia. He could have a can of food sitting right in front of him and he wouldn’t realize it. I had to constantly put the food under his nose and then he would eat some. This meant that I had to be there or he wouldn’t eat. If I had to go out of the house for a few hours, it would be hours that he wasn’t eating. So my schedule totally revolved around him. When did he need his fluids? When did he need to eat? I didn’t mind caring for him, but it was limiting for me. He was my baby and I loved him. That said, I finally had to let go. God had given this little angel to me and it was time for me to love him enough to stand back and let him go to his peace.

 I had a talk with him over the weekend and we agreed. It would be Tuesday when his regular vet came back to the animal hospital. Somehow he must have known, since we had a wonderful day together. He ate more, seemed more like his old self and slept under the covers with me. But I agonized over the decision right up to the last moment. At the vet’s, I was crying horribly. Then a sense of calm came over me. Hercules and I knew it was the time. We both were ready. The vet gave him an anesthesia and within seconds he put his little head down and that was it. He was out. The vet told me he was ready. He was at peace.

 My little darling Hercules passed at 4:25 pm April 5. I stayed with him for about 20 minutes until I realized the body on the table was no longer Hercules. He was gone to Rainbow Bridge to wait for me. Upon coming home I I lit a candle to celebrate his life and said prayers. May God’s light shine on him forever. And so it is. Amen.

 Here is the poem about Rainbow Bridge:

There is a bridge connecting heaven and earth
It is called Rainbow Bridge because of its many colours

Just this side of the Rainbow Bridge there is a land of meadows,
hills, valleys with lush green grass

When a beloved pet dies, the pet goes to this special place
There is always food and water and warm spring weather

The old and frail are young again
Those who are maimed are made whole again

They play all day with each other
There is only one thing missing

They are not with their special person who loved them on Earth
So each day they run and play until the day comes
when one suddenly stops playing and looks up !

The nose twitches !
The ears are up !
The eyes are staring !
And this one suddenly runs from the group !

You have been seen, and when you and your special friend meet,
you take him or her into your arms and embrace
your face is kissed again and again,
and you look once more into the eyes of your trusting pet

Then you cross the Rainbow Bridge together, never again to be separated

Author Unknown


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