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Posts Tagged ‘making a difference’

Wednesday, I was faced with a decision that I wished I never had to make.  It was coming to the realization that I had to weigh the quality of life of a very dear, very loved feline family member.  Wednesday I said goodbye to my little, precious and beautiful girl Indigo.  I want to first say that she was peaceful and in no pain in her final moments.  I would hope that in those moments she also realized just how much she was loved and cherished.   These past two days have brought up so many emotions, but I keep taking into account that she is no longer in pain, she is no longer losing weight, or having issues.  The past year and a half really took a toll on her and I still cannot fathom that  her brother Trooper is 16 and Buffy is also 16.  I never thought I would be saying goodbye to my little girl first.

As far back as I can remember, I have always had pets…As a child, my family had Rusty 1 a big orange and white tom cat which was from what I remember Kevin’s cat.  After Rusty passed, of course we had to adopt Rusty 2.  Another big orange and white tom cat.  After that there was Nosey and her sister Suzy Q.  Suzy Q was my cat and I was devastated when she was killed by a car.  Shortly after that, when Nosey had kittens – one looked just like  Suzy Q and I begged my parents to keep her.  I guess my begging worked and  I named her Precious as it was such a coincidence that Nosey would have a clone and the same facial markings of Suzy Q (a calico).  Then there was Cleo (short for Cleopatra – another calico).  At some point my brother Keith brought home Skeeter from Long Island and then there was TJ (formerly Thomas Joseph named after a friend’s boyfriend and my dad).  TJ was adopted from the barn at my Uncle Monroe’s house in Woodbury.  He was the runt of the litter but he was a Maine Coon cat.  He grew to 22 lbs. and had a wonderful life tromping through Robert Treat’s Farmers Field in Milford.  Of course there was also Charlie brown our rabbit, followed by Buttercup another rabbit.  Not to mention the little turtles, my brothers fish tanks, gerbils (thanks Lorelei) and all the rescue birds the cats caught.   I guess you can say I grew up in an animal loving family…I was also surrounded by animal loving friends and over the years have adopted in my mind their pets (better known as their children). 

When I purchased my condo I wasn’t expecting to get a pet as it would have to be a strictly indoor pet since I was on the second floor.  Well, that changed when Trooper was brought home from a New London parking lot weighing in at 3/4 lb.  we adopted Trooper.  Fearing that he was lonely, we adopted Buffy 6 months later who had a family blood line of Maine coon cat.  When these two did not get along, we figured if we added another cat, then something magical would happen.  So under Carol Forleo’s porch we went to choose the pick of the litter.  And something magical did happen…  She was a tortoise shell/calico little fidget and she became my little girl (in all senses of the word).  From day one, there was something special and comforting about her. Of course i love and adore Trooper and Buffy beyond belief also, but with Indigo, something just clicked…We connected with our eyes and she was forever engrained in my life, and especially my heart.  She was named after my favorite band … the Indigo Girls. 

Well, immediately, Trooper the male decided to take her under his wings and became quite the motherly figure with Indigo.  They walked around the house together, they slept together, he groomed her.  They were inseparable.  Indigo was tiny and even in her healthy times, never made it more than 7 lbs. Still she was my little girl.  Jake our Golden Retriever joined the crew and as much as he wanted to hang with the cats…Trooper would not allow it.  Funny thing is…Indigo picked up Jake’s puppy tail wagging trait, thus getting the nickname Waggy..Whenever I walked into the house or called her,  she would come up wagging her tail…not something a cat normally does. I smile when I envision how she used to get the play ball stuck in her claw and she would wave her paw up and down looking at the stuck ball until I would go over and get the ball off.  Or how she would mix the water in the water dish with her paw before she drank it.  She also had a habit of not liking to eat food out of any dish so she would bat a bunch of food onto the floor and then eat it.  She loved to chase flash light beams or the laser pointer.  And did her circles around my legs when it was time for soft food. She was also fond of bug watching and would sit at the slider door waiting for any type of flying insect to come within her reach.  That was our summertime ritual, bug watching and if I even said the word “bug” , Trooper, with Indigo in tow would take their positions in front of the slider screen door.    I used to call her my Chakra helper as she used to stabilize me in so many ways.  She was my friend in good times and bad, and knew my moods and habits probably better than anyone other than Trooper and Buffy.   Cats love unconditionally, without judgement.  They nurture their owners and show love in each headbutt, meow, lick, rub and snuggle. 

Wednesday when I realized something had to be done, my mind was numb, all over the place, racing.   It doesn’t matter how the morning unfolded.  I tried to call my mom but she was at bingo, I spoke with one friend who was en route home to MA and she turned around without me asking and just came over and surprised me and helped pass the time until I had to go to the vet.  Another I tried calling and didn’t want to leave a message.  

 Before Indigo and I  left the house, she was sitting so calm on my lap – Indigo and I had a good few hours that morning and afternoon together.  Letting me pet her nose and up her tail…something she always loved.  talking and just being in the moment together.  Trooper came over to her and basically licked her from head to every toe.  Kissing her, nudging her.  Even once I put her in her carrier, she stuck her nose out, as Trooper once again kissed her.  With one paw outstretched from the carrier, Trooper gently walked up and licked her paw and gave her a final lick on the nose.

In the end, it came down to bringing my precious little girl to the vet with the original parents she was adopted by 14 years ago.  I was right by her side along with her other mom who she knew for the first five or so years of her life and also on occasional visits.  Indigo cried a bit during the two minute ride to JFS and then the nest two minutes to the vet but she was calm, at ease, and a certain peace came over her as she sat on the vets table.  She was purring, and even gave me several head butts, and licks.  We were there by her side, talking to her, petting her and ushering her into the next phase of her life.  Allowing her to let go and for her soul to rise to see Jake and all those who passed before her. 

I can say that in the past few weeks, or actually the past year and a half when she started to have more serious  issues, she was more of a lap cat than she had ever been. I would not trade those times for anything.  My cats have been my life and one of the only sure thing for the past, basically, 9 years of my life living alone.  They shared my life 24/7… more so than some couples, or parents see their kids, husbands, relatives, etc. for that matter.  It is so sad that pets cannot say when they are hurting, when they want to just go to their maker, when they have had enough.  Maybe this is because they do not want to burden their owners, hurt the very person who has cared, loved and taken care of them.

I want to believe that Jake and my dad were there to greet her and introduce her to her earlier four legged relatives and family members. 

I would like to believe that she holds no contempt as I would never purposely let any type of animal suffer and I hope she understood that it was out of love and care that I made that decision on Wednesday.  I also would like to believe that when I said goodbye she believed that we would meet again and that I would never forget just how much she enhanced my life everyday.  And most of all, I sincerely hope she realizes just how much she was loved by me, Trooper and Buffy and all those who had the chance to meet her.  Rest in Peace my beautiful, precious little girl.  I am totally heartbroken  – and  Trooper and Buffy miss you so much.  As for me…that goes without saying.   Sweet dreams my little girl.  Always in my heart and mind.

PS … many thanks for all the phone calls, comments on facebook, cards, and the love and support of my extended family and friends.

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A month or so ago,  I was looking at resumes and actually interviewed two potential staff members.  As I looked over the resumes, I wondered to myself, what did that typed piece of paper really mean – the words on the resumes, the words on the application…?? 

It is like playing connect the dots or looking at an obituary in a sense.  You see dates, time lines, spans of years, maybe even decades.  But do you ever really get the picture of the typed words, the life behind the words, or the essence of a person?  I always liked the reference that it did not matter when a person was born and when the person passed … it was all in actuality, what they did in between that “dash.”  What really happened in the span of the years they graced us with their presence.  That is the true measure of a person.  Whether it be a few years or a lifetime, what did that dash really stand for? 

As I called the references of the two potential staff members and spoke with them it was apparent that the handwritten application did not mean a thing.  It was the spoken words and the stories that meant the most.  Granted, when interviewing we would like to choose the best person for the position.  We depend on the college degree, the schooling, the work experience, but until you are able to break through the wall of typed words on the white paper does the essence of a person become clearer. 

Today, I opened the New Haven Register and was saddened by the passing of a client – he was born in 1917 which made him…if my math is right, 93 years old.  He was an endearing man who adopted the women in our front office as his own.  When he came in he would stand at the front window, with his glasses, and hat (he always wore a hat) and spoke of the days gone by.  Many of us adopted him in our own minds as a grandfather persona.  No, I did not personally hang out with him, but I did interact with him on several occasions, waving from across the parking lot, giving well wishes, friendly hellos and smiles. 

As a child, I did not have a grandfather on my dad’s side and my maternal grandfather passed away when I was the tender age of 7.  I remember my grandfather ( my mom’s dad) in various ways, his wooden leg – as he lost his leg to diabetes, he spoke very broken English and he was a “Hunky.”  A Hungarian coal miner who crossed the Atlantic at a young age for a better life.  Each of his children (my mom included) where born in various states within the U.S. depending on where the mining work was, but mostly in the South.  The span between the dashes are amazing in a sense as it took an ocean for him to meet my grandmother – here in the good US of A, when they really didn’t live far from each other in Hungary near Budapest…My grandmother in her broken English told me that the river separated Buda and Pest.  

As I drank my coffee this morning I found myself mesmerized and pouring over the obit of my client and I realized I had a newfound respect for him and his precious life.  He graduated high school at 16 due to his extraordinary intelligence.   He turned down a college scholarship in the 1930’s to stay with his family and help support them during the Great Depression… He worked in the court system right here in New Haven, and did that proudly for 43 years.  He was the sole reporter for the first of the Black Panther trials in New Haven and his work during this trial produced 5,000 pages of transcripts, using shorthand.  imagine recording 250 words per minute by shorthand and 120 once he got his hands on a typewriter.  He travelled the world when it was not “chic” and befriended everyone and anyone.  Never did marry but he lived a full, fulfilling life, sharing his experiences with everyone and making a difference.  His “dash” is every so brilliant in my mind tonight and he made his mark on this world, and New Haven in general.  My encounters with him showed a perfect gentleman in all senses of the word – kind, considerate, endearing, engaging, honest and polite. 

I have often thought of my family and friends and the “dash,” and wondered if others see them as I see them – or for that matter if they see themselves as others do.  If only others could realize or know what I see and have experienced so far in their “dash.”  The many lives they have touched, and the difference they have made in their time here on earth.  Many of these family members, extended family members and friends are lucky enough to have NOT hit that final number beyond the “dash.”  And it makes me wonder what else or how else can they and I impact one single person, a child, a family, a neighborhood, a state, or a nation. 

Then again, many have also ended this chapter on earth and that “infamous” dash is enclosed and enveloped by an ending date.  I have a framed poster in my house (given to me by the Publications Department at Subway Headquarters when I left in 1998) with the following verse that states…

“Some people come into our lives and quickly go, some people move our souls to dance.  They awaken us to new understanding with the passing whisper of their wisdom. Some people make the sky more beautiful to gaze upon.  They stay in our lives for while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same.” 

That was more than 12 years ago, and at that time I took it upon myself, as morbid as it may seem, to place the memorial cards of those who have passed in my life around the edges – some cards that were otherwise stored in photo albums or in the back of dresser drawers.  People who have made a difference in my life – three grandparents, many aunts and uncles, friend’s parents, their brothers, sisters, nephews, a grammar school friend who perished during 911, high school and college friends and their family members.  Each card brings back many memories, thoughts, experiences, and each is a tribute and recognizes a precious span between the dash – Whether the span be 30 years, or 88 years…each card represents a life and what they accomplished, lived, loved, experienced and stood for between the dash. 

I guess in a sense, this reflection is about something as simple as and actually probably overlooked in many ways – it’s all about “the dash.”  Think about those in your life.  Those who are no longer with you, and those who are ever so present.   And lastly, think about yourself.  What do you want your dash to symbolize?  Have you left footprints in the sand, another’s life and have you made a difference?

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OMG…almost every other day I hear …

“Should I or shouldn’t I “Friend” on face book”

 “Can you believe I got a friend request from so and so.!”

“Why do they want me to be their friend?”

“Are there ulterior motives…?”

“Are they checking up or stalking me??!!”

Looking over my friend list, I laugh and big time reminence n a sense.  All of the people on my friends list in one way or another have had an impact on my life…it could have been 41 years ago (yes, Gina, this could be YOU) or just yesterday.   Whether it be a neighbor, a grammar school classmate, a high school acquaintance, a college dorm mate, a co-worker, an ex boyfriend or girlfriend or someone in the world after college…you know….the professional world.  Do I choose my friends wisely…  yeah, I think I do.  Some were chosen just because of history, others for friendship, and some others to just reconnect.  It is a mind Fu*k in a sense to see some people on facebook. But the overriding theme is that All of these people, ( YES I AM TALKING ABOUT EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU) …in ONE WAY OR ANOTHER, made a difference or lasting impression in my life.  It could have been brief moment, a smile, a connection that did not last beyond the “wow” or holy shi*, or it could have been a past or present friendship or relationship.  I honestly believe that people come into our lives for a reason.  And I am sure that almost everyone reading this has received an email about friendship and whether it is for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  Regardless of the reason, season, or lifetime, I guess what I am trying to say is that each and every person I encounter, stay in contact with, develop a friendship with, is actually a conscious choice.  Maybe I have not talked to you in years, or decades… but there is a reason that I have chosen to reconnect with you. 

It could be that in my mind I am thinking….

OMG…”Remember when we …”

Or “Remember when so and so did  ..”

Or maybe even…when we said a hundred years ago that “someday we will laugh about this”  and that SOMEDAY has now come around.

One thing I have always been proud of is my memory in a sense.  I have had more than my share of people saying…”Ask Hagan or ask Sandy/Sandra what she remembers.”  I always warned others…”You better watch out or you might be in my novel/book.”   This is NOT meant as a bad thing or a threat for that matter.  You have each made a difference and a lasting impression in my life. Now your assignment is to look over your “friend list” and see, take in, and find the glory in your friends and acquaintances, and realize just how they could have shaped what you were, are and will be.

So to end this tonight….Thank you for making a difference in my life…regardless of when, where or how and here’s hoping this season is great….and the best of “seasons” is yet to come ! 

In the words of the Byrds…..

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to build up, a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones
A time to gather stones together

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time of war, a time of peace
A time of love, a time of hate
A time you may embrace
A time to refrain from embracing

To everything – turn, turn, turn
There is a season – turn, turn, turn
And a time for every purpose under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time of peace, I swear it’s not too late!

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