women

Description: Furry Friends – Family Forever

 

When I was growing up, I distinctly remember the day my family got a dog. We went to a local humane society where my sisters and I picked him out. His name was Charlie. He was a great dog. I think he was a mix of cocker spaniel and something else.

For all intents and purposes, he was a mutt. That fact didn’t matter to us. He was always happy to see us and we loved him.

When I was in college, he had to be put to sleep and we all felt the loss. Later in my college years, I became a cat lover, as well.

I had never had cats before, but had been around them at the home of my best friends, Heather.

I had an apparent genetic predisposition to cats. I wasn’t particularly font of them, perhaps because my mother had not been particularly fond of them, nor her mother due to some destruction of drapery or some such thing. However, falling in love with a long-time cat lover, I began to see the error of my ways and slowly converted to his way of thinking.

In 1991, while visiting a friend at Virginia Tech with my husband Leslie. I picked a cat out of a box of kittens on a street corner. My life has never been same.

Her name was Delilah. She was amazing and taught me that cats were incredibly intelligent and compassionate.

She was clearly intentional in her actions and earned the title of “The Queen,” not just because of her poise and beauty, but also because she ruled the house.

She would not be denied attention, food or love. If I was working on the computer, she walked across the keys. If my husband was reading the newspaper, she curled up n in middle of its pages.

If she needed to go out, she started knocking my jewelry off the dresser to get out attention.

Delilah was a mood-changer as well, quick to nurse us in a time of sadness, illness, or simply when in a funk.

She traveled with us from Blacksburg and back to Davidson until we moved to Mandeville, La., across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans.

When we moved to Seattle, where I went to nursing school, she was put on a plane and joined us there.

When we headed back to North Carolina, we crammed into our Toyota Corolla with our 3-month-old son and Delilah to make the long journey back. It was a journey that we knew we would never repeat, in this life or the next.

She stayed a short time with my sister, Jill, in Concord and then settled in with us in Salisbury for the next four years. We brought her to the mountains with us in 2002.

We called her the “well-traveled kitty.” She won me over, as she did my mother.

In 2009, at age 18, she died. Our hearts were broken. She had ushered us through our early relationship, through many trials, into parenthood of three children (she was our firstborn), and helped me through my entire educational process.

Losing an animal is losing a part of your family. We cried and still do at times, but she was only the first of several animals we’ve lost.

The loss of our cat, Sid, was the most recent. Like Delilah, he was an integral part of our family. While initially surviving being hit by a car, he required an amputation and died later that day.

We had no regrets that we had agreed to the surgery. We all grieved, except for my 4-year-old, Ben, who didn’t quite “get it” He just wanted to know what was for dinner.

Sid was a Russian Blue cat. He was vocal and opinionated. He loved my children and waited for them every day to get off the bus and come home. We all miss him.

I have reflected a lot recently about the effect that animals have on us. I think their connection to us runs deeply, since they usually accept us exactly how we are.

They do not talk back. They seem always ready to forgive and to give and receive love, no matter what.

I think that we, as humans, can learn a lot from our animals.

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