Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The loves that move me

Bean (top) Betty (bottom)
I often reflect on the many animals that I have had through the years and how they have brought me through good times and bad. For a great deal of my childhood and certainly, my teen years, my animals were to be my support system. In times of uncertainty and insecurity, I could rely on them to give me affection and unconditional love.
The first that I recall falling for was, April. She was my first sheltie and a very special one at that. Incredibly intelligent, April, thankfully had a very forgiving spirit about her. She delighted me, angered me and more importantly was my very best friend. A best friend of no peer pressure. She excepted my harsh training, before I knew better. She was also a great ambassador for the breed. She slept with me for years and then later slept in an tiny crib next to my bed. What a great dog. She owned my heart and led me in a great direction. I often think that had I not had April that I could have been a very bad teenager and perhaps got into a lot of trouble.
When April was about 5 years old I would go down to the convenience store daily to get a gatorade and hot dog. She would go and ride along for company. I had come up on the store one day and a kitty was running through the wheels of each of the parked cars,, rubbing on the legs of the patrons and asking for hand outs. I just had total visions of this kitty getting mashed by one of the cars. Me being me,, I took that kitty home. She was very pregnant and a few weeks later presented us with a nice litter of kittens under our lounge chair. I moved the litter and her to a puppy pen where she raised them till they were weaned,, then she disappeared. I slowly found homes for the kittens. As the babies grew, they learned how to climb up the bars of the puppy pen and get out so I had rigged a top out of a baby gate with a board over the top and a brick on top of that to keep them in, mostly at night. One kitten would always get out. I would wake up in the morning to this little face in mine.. "HI",, "I got out again!". I named that kitten Houdini. I quickly fell in love with him and decided to keep him. I was able to place all of the other kittens but one. The little runtly looking one. She was a brown tabby that was so shabby looking that no one wanted her. She had this remarkable attitude though and I dubbed her "Better", since she thought she was better then the rest. I ended up keeping her as well. Better turned into a beautiful cat,, that would sing along with me when I sang and always cuddle to me when I was sick.
Years went by and Houdini was my constant companion. I called him "Bean" most of the time and "Better" turned into "Betty". These two cats were to be my companions for 19 years (Betty) and 20 years (Bean).
Bean and I were particularly close. He did everything with me and was truly my best friend. He delighted me with his nightly dramatic yawns when he wanted to go to bed. He loved to be held while I would dance and sing his name to him. His little taps on my leg with his paw when he wanted a share of what I was eating,, and most of all, his bed time antics. He would start out with a quick wrestle then quickly assume his spot on my chest. For 20 years I would fall asleep with Bean on my chest,, his paw in my right hand (holding it) and his chin over the top of my hand. It was "our" thing. He would sometimes rub his little lips on my hand as if to kiss me and then flatten his chin out across the top of my hand. The hardest part of losing Bean for me,, was bed time. I still find myself putting my hand on my chest as if to pretend he is still there. He was just so very special to me.
The concept of someone never being able to find the love and devotion that an animal can add to your life is hard for me to think of. These are just three examples of some of the wonderful animals I have loved. Each one adding something to my existence here and loving without question. A little window into what unconditional love is really about, in my opinion.
Forever a part of me and certainly never forgotten.