9 Lives of a Hip Cat
Yvonne aka naturegirl7
I have always had an affinity with cats and as I pondered what I was going to write down about myself in this article, I realized that my life has not been unlike that of the 9 lives of a cat.
There have been many ups and downs and even some near death experiences, but I have always managed to land on my feet and keep coming back to play this game of life some more.
First Life - Wednesday's Child, But Not Woeful
I began to come into the world late one Tuesday night in 1951. I don't remember my Dad going 85 mph for the entire 45 miles to the hospital in Shreveport with my Mom in labor, but it must have made an impression, because I have always liked to go fast. Early the next morning, I was born and joy rang out through the land.... Well maybe not the whole land, but definitely in the hospital because, my Mom was 38 years old and my Dad was 36 and I was his first child. Oh yeah, today it's done all the time, but not in 1951. My sister and brother followed, spaced 2 1/2 years apart. The funny thing was that when compared to my friends' parents, they looked the same age and in some cases much younger.
My parents brought me home to a rather drafty, uninsulated house. At about 9 months old, I developed pneumonia and asthma and came close to dying. Since the closest Catholic church was over 30 miles away, Dad gave me last rites that fateful night. But in the morning I was still in this world and have been hanging on ever since.
Angel Kitty Key Chain by PattiJAdkins
Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens
Second Life - Animals and More Animals
Growing up on a farm / ranch in north Louisiana wasn't as boring as you city folks may think. Since I was an animal lover from the time I could toddle around, everyday on the farm was like being in an outdoor classroom, filled with wonder and excitement. There were new puppies and kittens to be played with and new chicks to watch. The birds built nests all over our yard. The carpenter bees made tunnels and colonies in the old garage. (Yes, I was a bit of a tomboy.)
The pond held more excitement with fish, frog and turtle eggs and babies. We were always on the lookout for poisonous snakes, but one day when Dad and we kids were looking for baby catfish in a low area near the pond, I nearly stuck my hand in a muddy pool of water which contained a large Mocassin. Something made me pause and hold my hand just inches above the water, intuition, I guess or maybe a metal warning from my Dad that I somehow perceived.
Third Life - Miracle of X-Ray
One of the big inventions that affected my life was the X-ray machine. During the 50's and 60's doctors marveled at this miracle of science and before you knew it they were using it to cure diseases. When I was growing up, most kids had their tonsils taken out, but someone decided that it would be so much better to just shrink those pesky things with x-ray treatments. The problem was that they didn't realize that large doses of x-rays could have some very harmful side effects. Since I was the princess of tonsilitis, the doctors convinced Mom that this new treatment would solve all of my problems. Part of the way through the second session, Mom made them stop. She said that she looked into my little face as they led me into the lead lined room and she just couldn't allow it to continue.
Lucky for me, too, because most of the children who underwent the complete treatment ended up with thyroid cancer. All I had was a very large but benign tumor on my thyroid gland that had to be removed about a month before I was supposed to be in the Miss Farm Bureau Beauty Pageant. But that's okay, because 2 years later, my sister was crowned Miss Farm Bureau from Red River Parish and she almost won the state contest, too.
Rag Doll Cat Angel
Fourth Life - Angels Watching
There were a few more illnesses. I missed so many days in second grade that they wanted to hold me back. As a teenager, I also was involved in a couple of car accidents in which I could have been killed, but something or someone unseen protected me.
As a result, I chose to dwell on the positive and firmly believe in the power of positive thinking, especially in relation to healing the human body. I also believe in guardian angels. How else can you explain an out of control car, skidding in circles and landing 3 feet from a set of gasoline pumps that were right across the road from a hamburger joint full of teenagers? I guess I may have used up two or three lives on these events.
Fifth Life - Changes
After my Dad lost his father in the early '60's our life changed. My Dad inherited one third of the farm / ranch and he went from manager / hired hand to owner. Thanks to an inheritance that Mom received from Grandmother Mattie, we were able to build a new, more comfortable house and day to day life was easier. Mom made us take piano lessons and we also got to take dance. (Liked the dance, was not crazy about the piano and all the practicing. I prefer singing to playing.)
Eventually my skill in dance developed and in junior high school, I was chosen to perform in the yearly Lions Club Minstrel and my Dad sang in the chorus each year. The Minstrel raised money for the Lions Club Summer Camp for handicapped children.
We were even able to take a family vacation to France to meet the other half of the relatives. It was an eye opening experience. There were Great Aunts, Aunts, Uncles and cousins all over the place! I perfected my kiss-kiss technique, though my neck was a little sore after the big family dinner. My sister and I also got chic French haircuts that looked just like Twiggy's. Man, were we cool when we got back to Coushatta!
Ah, then came the late '60's and 70's and peace, love and rock and roll. Since we lived in a very small town in north Louisiana, all of the "in" things took about 2 years to become popular. It was sort of like being in a time warp. You'd see all these fabulous clothes and hair styles on TV and in magazines, but if you went to school in a mini skirt, even one just a couple of inches above the knee (when they first came out), you were sent home.
Oh, and the music! Even Shreveport radio stations wouldn't play some of the popular music. But we could always go to Stan's Record Shop to buy the latest 45 singles. We'd stack them up on the hi-fi and dance away.
Sixth Life - Choosing a Path
All through high school, I wanted to be either an artist like my grandmother or (since I did well in science and loved animals) a veterinarian. But when I took the first art course in college, my hopes were dashed. The "professor" totally discouraged most of the girls in the class, so from then on, I just did my art on my own. As for the dream of becoming a vet, my father discouraged that dream because at that time most vets just took care of large animals and there weren't many women vets in Louisiana.
But again, the path I ended up on was fulfilling. In my 25 years as a teacher and school librarian, I made a difference in the lives of hundreds of children, who, if I had not been there, may not have had the opportunity to learn.
Seventh Life - My Soul Mate
I met the love of my life in 1975. A friend fixed us up and the first time I saw him, he was in cutoff's playing a heated game of basketball in the parking lot behind his apartment. We went out on a date and have been together ever since. Since divorce sort of runs in my family, we played house for a couple of years before making it official. Of all my siblings, I am the only one who is still on my first marriage. We have so many things in common and both enjoy nature and the outdoors. Al is my best friend and is always ready, willing and able if I need backup. He has been my rock during tough times, as I dealt first, with the death of my mother and then the trials and tribulations of my head strong, aging father.
At the end of 2009, my rock, Al, was very ill, but after 3 weeks in the hospital and some outpatient procedures, he was finally on the road to recovery. While Al was still in the hospital, my Dad, who was also in the hospital, died a few days after his 94th birthday.
Even though Al was so sick, he continued to be my rock. My Dad is in a happy place with my Mom and his brothers, but I still miss him. I know that time will heal my sadness.
Eighth Life - Retirement and Hurricane Katrina
Now that the dust from Hurricanes Katrina and Gustav have settled, we are enjoying retirement again, living on our 9 acres of paradise with our two beloved dogs (Rio and Chance), our three sweet (well two of them) cats (Blaze Star, Star Noir and bad boy, Dax), three 20+ year old Cockatiels that we raised from chicks and now six Ameraucana pullets. We volunteer with the Master Gardener Association and are officers in the Folsom Native Plant Society.
We belong to various groups that try to protect our beautiful Tchefuncte River and its tributaries. We are proponents of Green Living and Sustainability and we give presentations about landscaping with native plants and creating backyard habitats.
After I retired, I was able to sate my creative appetite by picking up my pencils and brushes again, and my camera, too. We have galleries and stores on Zazzle and Cafepress where some of my work is on display. I always said that I wanted to write a book and I am beginning to fulfill that dream by writing on Squidoo. I have an ebook planned for the future.
Memories from Cats
Ninth Life - Pages Still To Be Written
The last life of this old cat will hopefully be a long one. We pray that there won't be another Hurricane Katrina in our lifetime and that we'll be able to continue trying to make a difference in this world and with the environment for at least another 30 or 40 years.
The pages continue with losses of loved ones very dear to my heart. Life goes on, though not as happily as it once did. Perseverance is the key in this stage of life, but it is also important to start new adventures as I continue learning about our beautiful planet, Earth.
As the old saying goes, "When God closes a door, he opens a window." My window was thrown wide open to show all the beauty and goodness that this world has to offer. It's never to late to learn something new or to start another chapter of life. Never be afraid to try.
Blaze Phone Home
© 2009 Yvonne L. B.