Sweet Ginger: A Glimpse at Disability
Meet the Players
Walk with me!
Sweet Ginger, what a nice name for an unusually special cat. Ginger was at one point my sister’s favorite cat, maybe it is because over the years in her childhood Ginger out of literally dozens of cats remained home. She goes on her daily outings like any other cat, but she always returns home. Each time she is to give birth to her kittens she does so at home. She has outlived all of her kittens, who have died due to illness or dog attacks. Never the less, Ginger remains a home cat. My sister would often say, “I think Ginger is mentally-challenged.” We would all laugh it off, me especially, the idea or notion of a mentally-challenged cat, what’s next a mentally-challenged lady bug? It was another of my sister’s outlandish proclamations about her cats.
As soon as Jacey could learn to walk she walked into the arms of her first cat Socks. Mom even bought her the video cassette tape of the Broadway production of “Cats.” I remember Jacey playing the part of the Grandma Cat for school and my Mom delighted in making the costume, most importantly my Mom always loved the song, “Memories.”
So, my mother passed and I assumed the responsibility for my sister and my mother’s disabled baby sister along with my little girl. Well, they were vacationing this summer and I chose to stay at home to get things in order. I was left the daunting task of caring for my sister’s cat and kittens. I knew how my sister loved cats and when my Mom passed she lost another kitten, so me being a strong believer in pet therapy, I got her two kittens.
She kept them in her room and loved them dearly; Ginger meanwhile, had only two kittens left from her last set. My sister was heavily involved with her cats. I do mean heavy, she would clean them, their ears, eyes, teeth, honestly folks I would never dream of being that hands on with anyone, but my daughter, it was a sweet yet, a little weird to me. I’m not a cat person. I am not really a pet person, but I do believe in taking care of your responsibilities, so I was going to care for those kittens and cat, because they were my sister’s loves.
Ginger would do what she could for them in the day, and then every night at 7pm she would drop them off on the step and wait for me to let her kittens in. I would open the door and let her kittens in to sleep on their little bed. I would give them healthy human milk that promoted brain development, call me crazy, but I wanted them in good condition.
I noticed one was a little sickly, so I cared extra for him/her. Then, 7am Ginger would return to the step for her kittens and that was our routine. Then, without warning the smaller kitten had matter in his eyes. They were matting shut I thought, so I set up my car to drive it to the veterinarian. Since this is a small town the nearest vet was a twenty minute drive.
I took the sick kitten and put him in the car, the other cats were watching and Ginger looked at me as if she knew I was going to try to save her kitten. So I drove to the next town. Unfortunately it was a Saturday and the building was open, but no one was there. I talked to the kitten as it moaned telling it everything was going to be ok. Then, finally someone arrived, thank goodness, but it was the dog walker, who had mistakenly left the door open. He told me I would have to drive another 30 to 40 minutes to another town to set the vet. So, I jumped back in the car and drove and spoke to the kitten it was going to be ok, as it moaned.
I stopped at a gas station in the town to ask for directions and when I went back in the car the kitten had stopped moaning and died. I was a mile away from the vet’s office. I calmed myself, maybe since it just happened they could save it and I raced to the office and carried the kitten in. I held on to some type of hope, and then the doctor told me it was nothing she could do, I cried. Couldn’t believe it was me, crying about a kitten that wasn’t mine, I am not a cat person, but I knew how much it meant to my sister and my tears were for Jacey, they were for Ginger, who had entrusted me with taking care of her baby. I knew the other cats were waiting for the outcome.
I composed myself and drove back home. As I got out of the car, the cats were all waiting in the yard for me and they kept looking back at the backseat. I walked over to Ginger and I told her I was sorry, but her baby didn’t make it. I swear those cats mourned, even Ginger. She continued however to send her last kitten to me each night and pick him up the same time each morning. I don’t know why, but I think Ginger learned to trust me in this ordeal.
Finally, my sister and those returned and she embraced Banana, Cherry, Ginger, and Baby Kitten. I noticed how from that point on to present Ginger would rub up against my leg and I am the only person she allows near her. Even when my sister tried to touch her she fights or scratches, but with me I think she feels safe.
One day while selling candy with Maria for her dance recital costume, we happened upon a beautiful soul named Ms. Brenda. I will do a hub on Ms. Brenda within a day or two because the encounter with her changed me. Ms. Brenda and I chatted for two hours outside and she told me of her mentally-challenged cat and I told her of Ginger and through our conversation and note comparison, I realized Ginger was indeed handicapped.
Ginger’s tongue would hang out and she shy’s away from people with the exception of me. If she is in the house and people are there besides me, she will hide. When it is just me she will come in the house and relax, watch TV, etc. What Ginger has taught me is the same lessons I learned when I did my chaplain work amongst the populace of mentally and physically disabled persons, they are more than their disabilities. In so many ways are they capable. They should not be casted aside for their disabilities, because honestly they can teach us so much that we fully capable individuals miss.
From Ginger I have learned unconditional love on a new level watching her care for her kittens in her best efforts despite her disability. From my aunt I have learned to see the value in everyone and everything. She might not remember her exact age every year, but she never forgets her birthday or anyone else in the family’s birthday. In ways she is more thoughtful, caring and considerate than most people. She remembers the things that matter in life, she reminds me that we all count and have a purpose in this world, some maybe obvious and some not so obvious. Annette teaches me love also as she cares for all the little children in the family as if they were her own.
I watch my Maria care for Annette as well. Although she is four she reminds me of compassion and love for others. She is not necessarily a cat girl, but she loves the cats, because my sister loves the cats. I remember Maria saying to my sister in the limo on the way to my mother’s funeral, “Jacey, do you work?” Jacey says, “No.” Maria says, “Oh, well I know you have a birthday coming up and I’m going to get you a nice doll, don’t work I am going to take good care of you.” Later Maria remarked when my sister cried on another occasion, “Jacey since you don’t have a Mommy anymore, I will be your Mommy, ok?” It shows me that the goodness in which we were created and taught live on and will live on in future generations.
Some day my daughter may find herself taking care of someone or something different, but the values I instill in her she will understand that they matter and they count, that they have a purpose in this world. Thank you sweet Ginger!