You Always Have Something to Give

I have been thinking about Lucky all weekend. I was wondering if the time was right to share his story. When he passed away in February, I could not do it. I cannot begin to express the impact that ragged, four-legged, furry misfit had in my life. I have shared space with a lot of pets during my life. Lucky was the best of the best.

Each pet that has come into my life has given me more than I have ever given them. They each left a different impression and impact. Some of them shaped me into the caregiver I am today. Others cared for me more than I did them. Lucky definitely was in that category. He lifted me up and held me when there was no one else I could turn to.

I grew up poor. There were always more bills at the end of each paycheck. I remember my Mom mixing powder milk into the last ounce of milk in the gallon to hold us over until payday. I grew up without money or material possessions, but it had a whole lotta love, and our basic needs were always met. My parents were champions of the displaced, discarded, unwanted. Our tiny, run-down 400 square-foot home that my Great-grandfather built housed many souls, some two-legged and some four. Every space in our house contained a functional piece of furniture. A place to sit, eat, or sleep. We did not have anything that did not serve a purpose inside the home. A sofa by day was a bed to a pet or human by night.

We were too poor to get our pets from breeders or pet stores. Our pets were animals living in the streets that needed a roof and a meal. My siblings and I scooped them up and brought them home. Sometimes Mom or Dad did the scooping. A posse of poor, lost souls that found each other and banned together.

One of the long-time occupants in our home was a black cat named Charlie. This cat was one of six in a litter of kittens one of our other tenants delivered. She was the runt of the litter. We did not think she would survive, but she did. I begged my Dad to let me keep her. Charlie let me dress her up in doll clothes and carry her around like a baby. Charlie snuggled under my neck until I was asleep. Once I was sleeping, she would sneak out of my room and stay up with my Mom. My Mom’s hobby was writing. She would write after us kids went to bed. Sometimes she was up until one or two in the morning. When Mom retired, Charlie would come back into my room and nuzzle my neck. I was none the wiser. I told the story that she never left my side. When I was an adult, my Mom shared that Charle would help her write at night.

Charlie outlived my Dad. She survived being hit by a car. She was tiny but tough. My Mom and Stepdad kept Charlie when I moved out of the house. They sighted “possession is 9/10ths of the law” or some other thing parents say. Every time I came home, Charlie greeted me in the driveway. She died not long after Todd and I married. I remember my Stepdad, Joe, calling to tell me. He came home from work and found Charlie was clinging to the window screen. She must have had a heart attack. He said, “Billie, I need to tell you that Charlie passed away, but she died hanging in there.” His humor in sharing the news made the passing a bit easier to process. To this day, when I think of that story, I still smile. My mind conjures up a cartoon of a cat with arms and legs sprawling in the shape of an X.

Our family did not have much when I was growing up, but what we had, we shared. My Mom never denied that we were poor, but she always told me that there is someone out there with less than you. Her attitude was you always had something to give. My parents opened our home to anyone in need without knowing how they would do it or if it would work out, but they said yes. I acted on impulse and took a page out of their book.

This weekend I adopted a rescue dog. He was adopted last year. When his owner was evicted from his home, he was left behind. He is a terrier mix. He is the same size as Coco. I thought he would be a good fit for our home. Actually, I was not sure he would fit in at all. He was nipping at everyone that came close, but I could see he wanted to be loved. I saw a soul that had been abandoned. He was discarded and displaced. I could not leave the event without knowing this guy had a chance. My mind said no, but my intuition was screaming yes.

Now I have a senior dog, Coco. A fifteen-year-old poodle and a new member of the house, Ben. A name that Todd got the honor of giving him. I was told this dog liked men. My girlfriend, Kathy, thought Ben would get along well with Todd. I agreed. Todd and Ben had a tough start. He got a little protective of me from the get-go and was aggressive with the boys. Todd tried to restrain him, and that did not go well. Todd has eight puncture wounds in his right. Todd definitely lost the battle. I told Todd I would contact the rescue. I would let them know that Ben was not going to work out. As I looked at Todd’s bruised and bloody hand, I felt guilty. Todd said we needed to give him time to adjust. He has been abused and abandoned. He definitely has trust issues, and he was distressed. He was scared, cornered, and attacked. We cannot give up on him yet.

Ben seems to be adjusting quickly to our home. As I sit here writing well past my bedtime, I think of my Mom and Charlie. I am on the sofa using my iPad (times have changed). I am supporting my iPad on my left thigh. Ben is asleep on my right thigh. I guess the apple did not fall from the tree. I have a soft spot for those that have been discounted and discarded just like my Mom did. I know Todd does too. It is one of the things I love most about him.

At some point in our lives, most of us have felt abandoned or discarded. We all remember someone that came through for us at that moment. Maybe it was two-legged, maybe four. We all deserve a chance to love and be loved. I have no idea what will happen on this journey. I do know that opening my heart to another soul has never been a bad thing. It has always taught me a lesson, helped me grow, or added love I never knew existed.

On that note, I think this article was supposed to be about my Lucky Boy. He added more to my life than I ever expected. He helped me grow. He taught me lessons. He was there for me during one of the darkest seasons of my life. I will never forget his energy. His love. His devotion. His story deserves to be told, but I am not ready to go there. When his story is told, it will be epic. Stay tuned.

Published by bshort1968

I am a self-described caregiver. I love to help and care for others. I have learned the value of caring for myself as well. Now I want to live my life helping others learn to care for others and take care of themselves as well.

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