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NationalPoetryMonth_download

In celebration of National Poetry Month, today’s feature “Morning Visitor” is a cat poem I wrote after my beloved Lexie Lee’s passing in 2014. She was a feral who found her way to my home in 2004. She bravely survived hurricanes and fought lymphoma.

Morning Visitor

Unexplained lightness on bed
One week after your passing
Spot where you use to snuggle.

Did you return to your beloved home?
Is this the sign I asked you to send?
A sign that you are safe.

My life is so different without you
My life is so rich because of you
Ten years my fur baby, my muse.

Unexplained lightness on bed again
Ten days after your passing
I whisper Lexie Lee.

I turn over to look at you
Lightness is gone in an instant
But you are forever safe in my heart.

My welcome home greeter
My napping buddy and lap kitty
My kindred spirit.

“Morning Visitor” ©2014 Linda A. Mohr

This poem won Cat Writers’ Association Muse Medallion in Poetry category in 2016.

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Lexie Lee

Blessings!

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Dawnie

Dawnie

 

This month’s Catnip Connection is a four year anniversary tribute to Dawnie who passed over to Rainbow Bridge on January 29, 2013. I got acquainted with Dawnie in the award-winning Catsong book written by my friend T. J. Banks. Dawnie and T. J.’s lives mirrored one another as conveyed in this passage: “We’ve both experienced motherhood, love and loss and struggled our way through that last one. When she comes to me now and walks over my work, demanding a head-scritch, or snuggles under the blankets next to me, purring, I can’t help smiling to myself, no matter what kind of day it has been.”

My experience is some animal bonds are formed deep and strong and touch each other’s soul. T. J. echoes this feeling in Catsong: “Chemistry–kindred spirits, soul mates, call it what you will–is a funny thing. There’s no dictating it. Somehow two souls knit together and stay knitted together, no matter what. Even death cannot undo those ethereal skeins.” I believe she developed such a bond with Dawnie. I love how she recently described their relationship as “titanium steel strong”.

 

Tribute to Dawnie
By Linda A. Mohr

You were my heart
A titanium steel strong soul connection.
You were my Dawnreader, my Dawnstar
My beautiful red Abyssinian.

Twelve and a half years
You graced the circle of my life.
Four thousand five hundred sixty-two days
Blessed scritch and snuggle time.

You taught me about heart matters,
How to take heart and
How to endure my heart
Being broken wide open.

You taught me to trust in time
Good things can root in a broken heart
Like hope, faith and joy.
Especially joy.

My dear Dawnreader
Forever in my heart
Forever my joyful connection
Forever more, my Dawnstar.

 

Credits
Dawnie’s portrait by artist Sally Logue
Catsong by T. J. Banks, stanzas three and four adaptation

Warm Purrs!

Muse Medallion Poetry Category

  Copyright Jerry Thornton

As Labor Day weekend signals the winding down of summer, I reflect on special blessings. I attended the Cat Writers Write Stuff Conference in conjunction with BlogPaws at Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa in Chandler, Arizona. This AAA Four Diamond resort is an authentic representation of the Gila River Indian Community.

Wild Horse Pass

Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass

CWA’s 22nd Annual Awards Banquet was also part of the conference. Three of my online articles and one poem had received Certificates of Excellence awards and were in contention for MUSE Medallions. The MUSE Medallion is awarded to the entry in each category receiving the highest average score from three independent judges. To become eligible for a MUSE Medallion, each entry must receive an average score of at least 90 and been awarded a Certificate of Excellence. muse2

My poem “The Morning Visitor” was the MUSE Medallion winner in poetry category. This was a bittersweet moment as the poem is about Lexie Lee who bravely fought lymphoma. I felt her spirit as I stood on stage to accept “our” award from Dusty Rainbolt.

Southwest Ceiling Mural

Southwest Ceiling Mural at Wild Horse

 

 

The resort’s website promise that it “offers quiet serenity created by the Native American tribes who found haven here'” was certainly true for me as well. This was a trip to remember!

Blessings!

A week passed before I could face the sad task of dealing with physical reminders of Lexie Lee’s passing. There were many. She liked to eat out of small bowls. When she got sick, I put her food in vintage flat glass bowls that accommodated smaller portions. That practice continued for six months. I found bowls in the bedroom under a bench and under the bed and by a water dish. Another bowl was under the dining room table and two more were in the kitchen.

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A large shoe box was under the coffee table. How she loved to stuff herself in that box! The sides were beginning to collapse, but it was still one of her favorite boxes. Her blue pet carrier had been a familiar fixture in the kitchen for months for easy accessibility for weekly vet appointments.

When you have a sick kitty, you try all kinds of food—just praying you find one that is gobbled up. There were extra cans of A/D and baby food that were not suitable for Chauncey and Grace. Left over baked fish and chicken were tossed from refrigerator.

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Then there’s all the medicine: B-12 shots, prednisolone tablets, prednisolone liquid in red and also tuna flavor, appetite stimulant pills, nausea pills, and morphine. Assorted sizes of syringes rounded out the home pharmacy. A bag of Pill Pockets had not worked out. Well if you count once, I guess they did! I chuckled as I removed these from the kitchen cabinet and recalled Lexie’s reaction to them. I had wrapped a prednisolone tablet in one and placed it along with one torn up into smaller bites with no pills. She ate everything on the plate. I thought I had found my miracle vet assistant in the disguise of a Pill Pocket. The next day I prepared the same smorgasbord of pockets and pills. This time Lexie bit into the bite with the pill. She spit it out, looked at me with disdain and walked away. I tried a couple more days, but she was on to me! I was reminded of the saying: Fool me once, shame on me. Fool me twice, shame on me. IMG_3195

There was laundry to tackle. The towel from the pet carrier was removed. The kitchen rug had been a popular spot for me to wrap Lexie Lee up in a papoose towel and administer daily meds. Her bedding was set up in a hallway the last two days of her life. Her pink velour bed from the living room was taken apart for cleaning. Several other throw rugs were tossed in the washer. Some serious vacuuming followed laundry.

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Finally, I filed away a veterinary file chock-full of weekly chemo treatments, discharge instructions, lab reports, bills and receipts. I often referred to it as the “hope” file.

So the physical reminders are minimized. The house is back in order. Chauncey has claimed the pink velour bed. Life goes on. The psychological reminders—well that’s another matter.

Sarge and Mother

Sarge and Mother

Today, I pay tribute to my niece’s family dog of thirteen years. Sarge passed away on February 18, 2013. I know her family misses their beloved companion very much. My mother adored dogs, and I cherish this photo of two old souls. I fondly recall that she requested a picture with Sarge during a family visit on December 24, 2008. As it turned out, that was the last year all of us celebrated Christmas together as mother passed away the following summer.

Tribute to a Best Friend

Sunlight streams through window pane onto a spot on the floor…
then I remember,
it’s where you used to lie, but now you are no more.

Our feet walk down a hall of carpet, and muted echoes sound…
then I remember,
it’s where your paws would joyously abound.

A voice is heard along the road, and up beyond the hill…
then I remember,
it can’t be yours, your golden voice is still.

But I’ll take that vacant spot of floor and empty muted hall,
and lay them with the absent voice and unused dish along the wall.

I’ll wrap these treasured memories in a blanket of my love,
and keep them for my best friend until we meet above.
~~Author Unknown

Poem Credit: Pet Loss Matters

Dawnie

Dawnie

 

This Catnip Connection is a tribute to Dawnie who passed over to Rainbow Bridge on January 29, 2013. I got acquainted with Dawnie in the award-winning Catsong book written by my friend T. J. Banks. Dawnie and T. J.’s lives mirrored one another as conveyed in this passage: “We’ve both experienced motherhood, love and loss and struggled our way through that last one. When she comes to me now and walks over my work, demanding a head-scritch, or snuggles under the blankets next to me, purring, I can’t help smiling to myself, no matter what kind of day it has been.”

My experience is some animal bonds are formed deep and strong and touch each other’s soul. T. J. echoes this feeling in Catsong: “Chemistry–kindred spirits, soul mates, call it what you will–is a funny thing. There’s no dictating it. Somehow two souls knit together and stay knitted together, no matter what. Even death cannot undo those ethereal skeins.” I believe she developed such a bond with Dawnie. I love how she recently described their relationship as “titanium steel strong”.

 

Tribute to Dawnie
By Linda A. Mohr

You were my heart
A titanium steel strong soul connection.
You were my Dawnreader, my Dawnstar
My beautiful red Abyssinian.

Twelve and a half years
You graced the circle of my life.
Four thousand five hundred sixty-two days
Blessed scritch and snuggle time.

You taught me about heart matters,
How to take heart and
How to endure my heart
Being broken wide open.

You taught me to trust in time
Good things can root in a broken heart
Like hope, faith and joy.
Especially joy.

My dear Dawnreader
Forever in my heart
Forever my joyful connection
Forever more, my Dawnstar.

 

Credits
Dawnie’s portrait by artist Sally Logue
Catsong by T. J. Banks, stanzas three and four adaptation

Warm Purrs!

The last post introduced ways to express sympathy to those who have lost a pet. Here are additional recommendations.

1. Make a donation—A donation can be made in memory of the caregiver’s cat. The donation can be to an animal shelter or an animal-related organization that you know the caregiver supports. A favorite cat book can be donated to a local library or a school. You can donate time, towels, or bedding to a local shelter or donate money for a veterinarian scholarship or feline research.

2. Encourage the caregiver to stay home—Companies do not provide pet bereavement leave, but many companies do offer a couple of personal days annually. The loss of a pet can be a legitimate reason to use a day or two to begin coping. If you are a supervisor and have an employee that loses a cat, consider suggesting the employee take the day off. If this is not possible due to company policy or the employee’s desire, you can still be understanding and not expect full productivity.

3. Frame a photo—If you have a picture of the caregiver’s cat, a kind gesture is to get a copy made and place it in a special frame. My brother did this after one of my cats passed away, and I so appreciated his gift. He had walked around my house with camera in hand during a two-week vacation one year and had taken some fabulous shots that I did not even know about. You can never have too many pictures of your pets—especially when they are gone.

4. Offer to do something specific—If you say, “call me if you need something,” chances are you won’t hear anything. However, if you offer to pick up the kids, walk the dog, order takeout food, or dig a grave, your helping hand may be appreciated and accepted. Just hours before my beloved Katarina passed away, a dear colleague called me and offered to pray for us over the phone. A couple hours after she passed away in my arms, another colleague appeared on my doorstep with hot chocolate and a stack of buttermilk pancakes. The hot chocolate and three bites of pancake got me through an excruciating evening. The pancakes were microwaved several times the next day and that is all I remember eating for two days. Later, still another friend volunteered to take Katarina to the veterinarian’s office the next morning for cremation. I accepted these kind offers, but probably would have never asked for them myself. Katarina and I were truly blessed to have had these three compassionate souls helping us in the final hours.

5. Sit and listen—You may not understand what the caregiver is going through. You may not even understand how anyone could be so upset about a cat. But you can still be present. You can sit quietly, listen to stories, and even encourage the stories by saying tell me about the time. There is no need to worry what to say. In truth, there are probably very few words that can be spoken that will really help. But your mere presence and love will make all the difference and will never be forgotten.

If you keep just one of these considerations in mind, your grieving friend will be eternally grateful for your gesture of comfort and support.

What expressions of condolence have touched you after the loss of a pet?

Bountiful Blessings!

When a friend suffers the loss of a family member, you know what is appropriate in our Western culture. You express condolence, send a sympathy card, donate a memorial, bake a casserole, and visit the family. But when that family member is a cat, you may be uncertain as to what to do or what is expected. Our society simply does not have formalized rituals for this kind of loss. These five considerations can help you navigate unfamiliar territory.

1. Never say “it was just a cat, get over it”—Such a statement compounds the grief of the caregiver and belittles the relationship and connection the two shared. For many people, the loss of a pet is just as painful as dealing with the death of a human. For some, the cat has seen the caregiver through life-altering events such as marriage, divorce, death, promotions, job loss, moves, and more. In essence, the cat was only constant in the caregiver’s life. For others, the cat has played the role of surrogate child or spouse. It was “not just a cat” in the eye of the caregiver.

2. Never suggest “oh, you can get another cat”—Yes, it is true that there are a multitude of cats in local shelters that need a home, and it is not difficult to adopt. However, in the immediate days following the loss, the owner may not be psychologically or physically ready for another cat or may not even want another animal. This statement also diminishes the life of the cat that has passed on. Each cat has its own personality, and a cat cannot simply be replaced with another cat of the same breed and color and expect all to be back to normal in the caregiver’s household. Everyone, including other family members as well as remaining pets, need time to adjust to the gaping hole left in their lives before filling the void with another cat.

3. Avoid giving a kitten as a grief gift–This approach is problematic for the same reasons mentioned under number 2. Many years ago my precious orange marmalade kitten, Taittinger, died suddenly. A few weeks later a friend visited me while on a business trip. She was traveling with a kitten, and it wasn’t long before I realized she expected me to keep the kitten when she left. The orange marmalade kitten was adorable, but I was unable to accept. My friend thought she was doing me a big favor and helping to console me. I know I hurt my friend’s feelings, but the kitten’s arrival was simply too soon for me emotionally. About a year later, I did adopt another kitten when I was ready physically and emotionally. Only the caregiver will know when the time is right to open the heart to a new cat.

4. Send a card—Your friend will appreciate receiving a pet sympathy card. The cards are easily available, and you will find messages for a variety of situations. You can also add a personalized note about your fond memories of the cat. E-cards are acceptable, but my preference is to send a card from a store or to handcraft a card. A traditional card is easily tucked into a pet’s memento box or placed in a scrapbook. I have received many cat sympathy cards in the past three decades, and they are part of the cherished keepsakes for each of my animals.

5. Write a personalized story or poem—If you have a special memory of the caregiver’s cat, I suggest you write the story down. A dear friend of mine knew how much one of my cats, Katarina, loved to laze in a sunny window sill. So she wrote the following poem: “Tribute to Katarina, 1988-2005, Dainty purring presence, Catching sun in the window, Filling my heart with light.” I framed the poem and hung it over Katarina’s favorite window along with a series of photographs of her in the window sill. I so appreciated the original poem and my friend’s love.

Next Post: Five more ways to show you care about your friend’s loss

Bountiful Blessings!

Our guest today is Michelle Morris who shares this poignant tribute to her beloved fur friend.

In Memory of My Beloved Midnight  July 15, 1994-January 16, 2010

Midnight came into our lives November 1994.  He was a 4 month old chubby little black ball of fur with beautiful green eyes and instantly won our hearts.  We had just brought a real Christmas tree home and hadn’t yet decorated it.  He took one look at it and up he went.  He thought we had put a tree in the house just for him.

Midnight had the run of the house and thought he was king.  He would be waiting for me, when I came home from work, because he was lonely and wanted to play.  I decided he needed a companion so on December 25th, 1995 Tasha arrived to became  a part of our family.  That didn’t sit well with Midnight because he now had to share  “his” house.  A love/hate relationship developed that would last for the next 14 years.  He loved her but wouldn’t let anyone know that he did.  If they were separated, he wasn’t happy until they were back together.

My favorite nick-name for him was “Buddha Boy” because, when he sat up perfectly still,  he looked just like a little buddha statue.

He was a loving kitty and never met a stranger.  He would introduce himself to anyone that came into our house.  And of course, he always had to be the center of attention.  I had many product sale parties over the years.  Never wanting to be left out, and to make sure he wasn’t,  he would jump right into the middle of the person’s display case and sit there as proud as a peacock for all to see.

He brought so much joy into our lives and never asked for anything in return except for food and water.  He saw us through years of happiness, sadness and sickness.  He wouldn’t leave my side when I was sick, curling up against me in bed as if he presence would cure anything that was wrong. 

My husband’s job required him to travel quite often so I decided my daughter and I needed a dog for protection.  We adopted a six month old puppy in August 2000 and named her Abby.  Abby is a black lab mix and grew into a 80 pound dog.   Midnight took a dislike to Abby and never forgave us for bringing her into “his” house.

He developed health problems as he grew older and had to make more visits to the veterinarian than he thought was necessary.   He didn’t like visiting the veterinarian and would show his dislike when the doctor came into the room.  The sweet little loving kitty would instantly turn into the cat from hell by snarling, hissing and showing his teeth.  It was almost comical to watch him.

September of last year he cut his leg and had to have surgery.  He slowly recovered but soon developed a cyst that wouldn’t heal.  His health deteriorated over the past few days and, when I came home from class this afternoon, I found him laying motionless.  He looked into my eyes and I knew he was saying goodbye.  He was suffering and I knew what had to be done.  I bundled up my “Buddha Boy” in a towel and held him in my arms as my husband drove us to an emergency veterinarian clinic.  The trip was over too soon.

Once inside we were shown into an examing room to wait.  I knew how sick he was when he didn’t flinch from the sound of dogs barking in the other rooms.  The time had come for us to say our final goodbyes and with tears running down our faces and hearts heavy we turned and walked out, leaving Buddha Boy for the last time.   It was one of the toughest decisions I have had to make but  knew Midnight was no longer suffering.

Tears are streaming down my face and my heart feels like it is going to break as I write this story.  In the background I can hear Tasha running thru the house crying because she cannot find her companion.  It is going to be a very long night.

Midnight is gone from our physical lives but he will live in our hearts forever.

Thank you Michelle for sharing Midnight’s story and photo of your daughter. What a beautiful connection you shared for over fifteen years.

If you have a pet memory story share, I would love to hear from you. Visit Share Your Story

Bountiful Blessings!

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