As this Mother’s Day draws near, I am once again reminded that this imagery we tend to have of MOTHER is that of first taking that solid little body into our arms to hold in gentle firmness against our breasts while at the same moment holding forever in our hearts. However, the point of view from the infant at that time is one of looking around in wonder. Recent thoughts have come to mind that from the child, there is a great deal forever unrecognized about their mother.
One way that has come to light has been in that my mother was a firm believer that animals helped teach children responsibility. Thus, we had a family dog, my brother and I each had a cat at one point. One late spring day as I walked home from our country school, my mother and my brother, Kent, age 12, were huddled in the grass by our house when I heard Kent, as though upset, say, “Don’t let Marilyn see this!” Mamma hurried me right into the house and told me, “Sonny Boy is dying.” What? Sonny Boy was my beloved, smooth-haired, yellow and white striped kitten. How could he be dying? He was too young to die! (This was right after WW2 and vet visits were for people with more money than we had, plus country cats were just that – country cats.) Sonny Boy had worms, apparently from an unhealthy mother. My 8-year-old broken heart must have been nothing compared to the one my brother suffered as a result of his careful attendance of Sonny Boy’s death and probable burial. Hopefully, his Jeep cat brought him some cuddling comfort, or, more likely, our dog, Peggy.
Not too long after, when we visited our maternal grandparents, as so often was true, there were kittens for our playing pleasure. This time, having asked permission from my parents beforehand, Grammie gently picked one tiny grayish-striped one with an almost black pointy tail from the box , offered it to me with the explanation, “The mother kitty of this one is old. She doesn’t have enough milk for all of her babies. If you think you can raise this one, she can be yours, but you will have to feed her milk from a dolly’s bottle for a while.”
“Oh, yes, Grammie! Yes, I can do it! Thank you!” Thus, baby kitty was passed from grandmother’s hands into my waiting, cradled arms. Today, I can almost relive the ride home in the one-seat pick-up truck , still cuddling my mewling kitten, and Daddy’s wondering, “What have we gotten ourselves into this time?” attitude. (He was not fond of cats, but he did love his little girl!)
This was all brought back to me “in full living color” this past week as I writhed in my mind over what our daughter and her daughter were painfully suffering. A far different time, but not such a different scenario was being played out. A little girl once asked, “Can I please keep this kitten? I’ll even pay to have her fixed.” And so a companionship began for the kitty’s lifetime with the little girl through high school-college-into marriage but now Minny Kitty needed medical care that the vet felt could be accomplished with surgery since all the blood tests indicated “Okay.” Minny Kitty had been brought to the trusted vet at the growing-up home and since her Emily Girl had to return to her home to work, the grandmother person, the “Mama’s Momma”, was there to nurture and comfort. The antibiotics for an ear issue were given faithfully until that last evening prior to surgery when Minny Kitty seemed to say, “Not tonight. I’m tired. I’m old. Surgery is not the answer.” With the signs given of a possible stroke and past the vet’s open hours, the Mama-Grand-momma sat holding Minny Kitty in as comfortable a position as tolerable for her while both were on the floor. A little mewing from Minny Kitty seemed to say, “Thank you for loving me so much,” as she took another brief breath or two and went to sleep in the nurturing arms of love.
For those same nurturing arms of love that once first held her baby Emily Shae back to the arms of my mother who once first held and nurtured me, little knowing the prices they would pay for loving us so much, beyond the pain they had just endured, we could ask, “Would you do it again, or is it too high a personal price?”
Perhaps this simile answers well:
“You see only the best views
when you have climbed to
the top of the mountain.”
© M Sue Libby Moore