Mommy Advocate General

A Parent Advocate Sued Anywhere Is A Parent Advocate Sued Everywhere –  Volume & Light Nashville

It doesn’t stop when I’m tired. It doesn’t stop when I’m sick. It doesn’t stop when I’m broken. It never stops. Once you are a mother of a child with special needs; you are their advocate for life.

You are their lifeline. Their voice.

I knew he would be born with the same degenerative rare connective tissue disease that I have. My genes would give that to him. I didn’t know I would never have my own life. Even after he’s legally an adult. He and I got so much more than just the one disease.

Challenges and Issues for Special Needs Children

From birth it began; paperwork. It. Has. Never. Stopped. How do you layer-down a human life to reams and reams of paperwork. It started with a simple printout: FRAGILE, Handle With Care. It didn’t matter that I was lying there in pain, not only from childbirth but from my own medical difficulties with the disease we’d share. I had to forget about me and yell at a nurse for the way she was yanking on my son’s legs.

Then we began Early Head Start, a preschool program, with more paperwork. Medical proof that my child would be full of bruises because that’s part of our symptoms. I had to prove that I wasn’t harming my child and the bruises weren’t abuse. His first broken leg at 10 months old wasn’t abuse. Start the paper trail. Keep all the medical files.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta: Brittle Bone Disease - Creative Med Doses

OH but if that would have been all of it! No, not for me. I had to hit the jackpot and my kid would also have ADHD, tons of anxiety, and years of depression. Anger management over not being “normal,” more broken bones thanks to hyperactivity, and a fear of playing; because when he plays he fractures.

Public school begins with more paperwork. We instututed a 504 Plan for my medically fragile child. That wasn’t enough. It didn’t take long before the school was “suggesting” medication for the ADHD. So educational assessments were done and the 504 Plan was changed to and IEP: Individual Education Plan. I was a Licensed professional therapist, a social worker, but who was there for me? Who helped me with all this new paperwork, assessments, tests, etc?

No one.

Cuz I’m also a single mom. A single mom with my own disabilities. On my own.

Then when he was in 4th grade he fell 10 feet off a garage. He broke his back in 2 places and punctured a lung. Try watching your heart being flown on a helecopter 4 hours away from you to an emergency Children’s Hospital! My heart, my child, unconscious flying away.

DSM-5 Criteria for Diagnosing Generalized Anxiety Disorder

After those 6 frantic days ensued a year of medical appointments and me, alone, lifting him, turning him, carrying him; while I had 5 herniated discs of my own. Driving 8 hours once a month to see the specialist. Dealing with his pain, and the school being an unnecessary extra pain in my back side.

By 6th grade the school decided they didn’t know how to deal with him. Do what schools do: label the child difficult. His grades were failing even though his intelligence is above average. I made the plans for his IEP because his special education “teacher” didn’t know how to do it right. They sent him to In-School Suspension when he was having an anxiety attack for Pete’s sake! So many things were going wrong, so I threatened to sue the school.

So Much Paperwork for New Professional Job Fields — Steemit

It shouldn’t take threats to get what you need for your child. I took him out of public school and enrolled him in a Charter school. Low-and-behold he became a person. He was no longer just a number and some labelled terms on forms. OH, it wasn’t easy. He still made our lives a challenge, but what the public school labeled as failing he was now getting good grades and making friends.

Not perfect A’s. He still needed a LOT of special education assistance, but he had happy moments for a change. In 10th grade he even had a girlfriend! I had a bubbling busy house full of teen boys that made me laugh for days. Ah, could he possibly see a future on the horizon?

A young man is supposed to start his independent life at age 18, after graduation. My son was headed in the right direction. He had a part time job working with computers, his love. He had a good bicycle and friends. He will never drive a car, but he was on his way!

Then the real world decided it needed to stomp us down again. The disease roared to life and he suddenly became a shell of himself. Living his days in extreme pain and inability to be mobile, he lost his job. He tried this that and the next thing to get better, but he’s not going to get better.

Understanding Chronic Pain

Without me he would be living in a box on the street, but I will never allow that. His depression and anxiety is now through the roof, as is his daily levels of physical pain. I’m trying to get him on SS Disability, but the “system” seems to think that due to his age he should be able to work. How can they not SEE the boy who so wants to be a man, but he can’t catch a break?

22 years old and I’m still in charge of his life. I have my SSDisability and my own difficulties, but being his advocate is never going to end. I love him to the ends of the universe and back, but how much do I give of myself and never get help for?

Mom’s never stop.

For the Men

“Eleven states have passed laws restricting a woman’s access to abortion, with some states approving near-total bans of the procedure altogether. Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio and Utah have all passed abortion-related legislation that has been signed by their Republican governors. Lousiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards also signed a bill restricting abortions.

Alabama’s law, signed by Governor Kay Ivey, is likely the strictest in the nation as it makes it a felony for doctors to perform abortions even in cases of rape and incest. Laws passed in Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Ohio ban abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can happen as early as six weeks into pregnancy (before many women are even aware they are pregnant). Less severe laws like those in Indiana and North Dakota ban the use of clamps and forceps during second-trimester abortions.

According to a new FiveThirtyEight analysis, which examined all 50 state of the state speeches given by governors in 2019, the term “reproductive health” was not uttered once by a Republican. Meanwhile, the term appeared in approximately 21.7 percent of Democratic speeches.

https://www.newsweek.com/republican-governors-reproductive-health-abortion-laws-1443902

The U.S. Supreme Court, in Roe v. Wade, made it clear that states may not ban abortion outright before the fetus is determined to be viable, recognized by the medical community as around 24 weeks’ gestation. In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Planned Parenthood v. Casey that states may not place an undue burden on a woman’s right to choose an abortion. Like laws that attempt to ban abortion at 20 weeks’ gestation, bills banning abortion after detection of a fetal heartbeat are intended as a direct challenge to these U.S. Supreme Court decisions.

Let me be razor clear why all these states are even proposing abortion bans right now, even if they don’t get passed or they remain being argued over in session for long periods. They WANT to be taken to the Supreme Court. Their target IS Roe-vs-Wade. They want people to think that their are a lot of people who want to overturn it.

THERE ARE NOT.

Polls being done put Americans in total at about 50% in favor of keeping Roe just where it’s at and another 30% in favor of keeping it but tweaking it just a bit, and the last 20 % being unsure OR for overturning. Even polls among republicans show 1/3 in favor of keeping Roe and another 1/3 in favor of keeping it but tweaking it, with only the last 1/3 being the radical fundamentalists who want it overturned.

Many of these abortion bills are called “heartbeat” bills. How do you detect a heartbeat in an unborn fetus? (I’ll explain later that at the gestational stage these bills cover it is not a fetus, it is still an embryo.) By using a VERY INTRUSIVE and embarrassing measure at 6 weeks:

Ohio required an abortion provider to use an abdominal ultrasound to detect a fetal heartbeat and banned abortion when the pregnancy has progressed to 12 weeks and a fetal heartbeat is detected. North Dakota went even further, passing the most stringent anti-choice legislation in the country—a bill that bans abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected using “acceptable medical practice,” which is approximately six weeks through the use of a transvaginal ultrasound.

At least sixteen states (Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, LouisianaMaryland, MichiganMinnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and West Virginia) have introduced measures to ban abortion as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

MN, where I live, is what concerns me. I am 50 years old and Peri-menopausal. No I don’t plan on getting pregnant any time soon, but this is where I live and as long as I do it is no one’s business to tell me or any other woman what to do with my/her health, rights, or body. I will fight for my fellow women.

Minnesota Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban (HF 271)  , proposed  Jan 22, 2019

Minnesota Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban (SF 869) , proposed Feb 7, 2019

Minnesota Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban (HF 2101) , proposed March 7 2019

Minnesota Fetal Heartbeat Abortion Ban (SF 2245) , proposed March 11 2019

Some reproductive rights groups argue that the term “heartbeat” bill is a misnomer, since the fetus does not yet have a heart at six weeks’ gestation — the cardiac activity detectable at that time comes from tissue called the fetal pole. Up to the 10th week after fertilization the pregnancy is called an embryo and it still has no brain or spinal cord. Most malformations (birth defects) occur during this period when organs are forming. During this period, the embryo is most vulnerable to the effects of drugs, radiation, and viruses. Not until after 10 weeks is it called a fetus. It is still not viable, it can NOT live outside the uterus.

At about 14 weeks the sex of the fetus can be identified. Between 16 to 20 weeks the mother can finally feel the fetus move. Sometimes for women who don’t have regular periods, are overweight or don’t know why they are gaining weight – this is the first sign that they are pregnant. Not until after 24 weeks does the fetus have a chance of survival outside the uterus. The lungs continue to mature until near the time of delivery. The brain accumulates new cells throughout pregnancy and the first year of life after birth, but the people who want ALL fetuses born no matter what don’t care about their health care after they are born. Even if they need extreme medical care for underdeveloped lung and brain problems.

Nor do they care if the mother has medical issues during pregnancy. Make her suffer through it, no matter what, and deliver that fetus. Even if she KNOWS her body isn’t doing its job to give the fetus the required nutrients or safety/cushioning or whatever. Even if that mother feels like shit knowing her body is harming her child from her own medical issues. It takes two people to GET pregnant, even IF the pregnancy was a “mistake.” However, now what she’s going through is all on her. REMEMBER, THE ACTUAL TERM, REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH, NEVER GETS MENTIONED!

This issue is all about being educated and informed. It is NOT about being pro or anti birth or children or about killing. Those words are for the fanatics and lunatics and the super-religious. In NO way do politics and religion belong in the same debate for ANY topic. THIS is a medical and personal topic.

When it comes to abortion some people have morals and some people don’t. I have known women who use it as birth control. Got pregnant? Oh, go get an abortion. Got pregnant again? Just go have another abortion. Never feeling any emotion about it. Oh, had too many so that there’s so much scar tissue that you can’t get pregnant any more? Oh well, never wanted kids anyway. I have also known SO many more women that have had abortions that have felt the weight of the world on their shoulders at having had to get an abortion that they thought it would emotionally kill them to do it. The levels of guilt and self-hatred, shame, and disgust and depression left them in despair for years, but they had such heart-wrenching reasons for having to do it: usually being in violently abusive relationships, being molested by family members, being gang-raped, other rape, severe medical issues, or severe poverty or no medical or health care.

People of color, queer, and low-income people are who are disproportionately likely to seek abortion care. Then add in people with cognitive or physical/medical disabilities. And now these new laws could allow women who terminate pregnancies to be charged with murder!

Think about the barely mobile disabled person with cognitive disabilities who says yes to sex, but doesn’t really even know what sex is. That person can in no way raise a child, but will be forced to go through the pregnancy not understanding what is going on with her body, often doing things that put the fetus at risk. If she does, she will be arrested for causing the fetus harm? Many LGTBQ+ are beaten/raped just to “show them what they’re ‘supposed’ to be,” by ignorant assholes. Now they must carry a baby even though they look like a man? I could go on with the horrible stories. The fanatics don’t care who got pregnant or how or what will happen to the child after it is born. All they want to do is toss around scare-words without real facts.

“Late-term” abortions are generally understood to take place during or after the 21st to 24th week of gestation, which is late in the second trimester. That gestational period roughly corresponds to the point of “fetal viability” or when a fetus might be able to survive outside the womb with or without medical assistance. However, there is no precise medical or legal definition of “late-term,” and many doctors and scientists avoid that language, calling it imprecise and misleading. They say “late-term” may imply that these abortions are taking place when a woman has reached or passed a full-term pregnancy, which is defined as starting in the 37th week.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 1.3 percent of abortions were performed at or greater than 21 weeks of gestation in 2015. In contrast, 91.1 percent were performed at or before 13 weeks and 7.6 percent at 14 to 20 weeks.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) said in a statement released this week that pregnant women may experience conditions such as “premature rupture of membranes and infection, preeclampsia, placental abruption, and placenta accreta” late in pregnancy that may endanger their lives.

 

“Women in these circumstances may risk extensive blood loss, stroke, and septic shock that could lead to maternal death. Politicians must never require a doctor to wait for a medical condition to worsen and become life-threatening before being able to provide evidence-based care to their patients, including an abortion,” the ACOG said.

In a paper published in 2013 by Foster and Katrina Kimport on women who got abortions for reasons other than a danger to life or health or a fetal anomaly, they cited logistical delays such as difficulty finding a provider, raising funds for the procedure and travel costs.

Foster and Kimport described five “profiles” of women in the study: “They were raising children alone, were depressed or using illicit substances, were in conflict with a male partner or experiencing domestic violence, had trouble deciding and then had access problems, or were young and [experiencing their first pregnancy].”

“one woman was told by her doctors that something in her 20-week scan looked suspicious but it wasn’t until 24 weeks that it was clear the fetus had significant abnormalities.”

(Oops, I forgot to add what the article was that I took the above quotes from. My bad.)

Humiliation, agony, and the risk of sterility or death. Is that what we want to go back to? That’s what women went through before Roe-vs-Wade in the 50’s and 60’s. Back room abortions with dirty medical instruments or at home do-it-yourself by a coat hanger. Just because they want to make it illegal doesn’t mean women will stop doing it. Women will still want to keep their fortune 500 jobs. They can’t do that if they get pregnant. Ah-ha!

There it is. The Ah Ha moment. That’s what this is all about! Men trying to put women in our place. Take away our power. Get us out of the business and other work-places so men can be back in charge. They want to go back to the 50’s when women met them at the front door with their evening drink and dinner on the table.

That will actually be impossible to do. No one in the middle class down can live like that. It’s mandatory for family’s to have both parents working just to pay the bills. Think about having kids? You’d better not have a part time or a low-income job if you have a kid or two. Need to dish out $5,000 for an abortion? Insurance will only pay for it if it’s medically necessary.

I would really like to see someone do a poll/survey on the middle class to upper class to find out how many of them have abortions -vs- the middle to lower class, where most surveys are usually done via social services or Planned Parenthood. They wouldn’t have to scrape and scrimp and save every penny for months just to afford the abortion. They could just think, “oh shit I’m pregnant, oops! Better get an abortion before mommy and daddy find out. Boom. Done.”  Plus, the family doc of rich people isn’t going to rat out some little rich kid. He knows who pays for his “coke.”

OK, sorry, there’s MY “ism,” richism. I know, that’s not a word. There’s racism, sexism, I have richism. I’m rich-ist. I have issues with rich people. Rich people who don’t use their wealth to help society in any way, or only to make themselves “look” good.

Back to the issue at hand: abortion IS an elitist issue. It is one more way for those with to push down those without. You think rich people are going to be going to jail for having illegal abortions? Of course not.

It’s also a sexist issue for sure. Rapists even get rights to the kids they spawn from their rapes these days. You can NOT convince me that’s OK. It is NOT OK to force a woman to have the child from being raped. This is one more thing that a man truly can not in any way possible remotely begin to understand. A man can be raped, but a man can not become pregnant from being raped. Have to live with it growing inside you, like the rapist is again inside you, but not for minutes this time – this time he is inside you for 9 MONTHS! Then, if you don’t give it up for adoption, you live with this child possibly for the rest of your life; remembering. If you are unlucky enough to live in one of THOSE states, you might also be FORCED to have your rapist in your life, have to see him, talk to him, etc, forever, as he is allowed to be the rightful father of your child and receive parental rights and visits. You will never be allowed to forget your pain, humiliation, and how he broke your will and spirit as the state you live in goes on to do so day after day.

Mind you, I am pro-life for myself, but pro-choice for all other women. I would never tell anyone what to do in any situation and no one else has that right either. I have never been faced with that particular scenario, and I have no idea what I’d do. Thankfully, MN would never make me deal with the father of a child from rape.

I did, however, have to make the abortion decision. Being a social worker, I knew that fetal alcohol syndrome gets part of its parts from the man’s sperm, and I became pregnant by an alcoholic. I was a pretty bad social drinker myself at the time. I had also just been in an auto accident and I was in a pretty bad amount of pain. Being born with a rare genetic disease, I also had that to consider. So, given all of that what was I about to pass on to my child? Should I or not take pain medicine? How much had I drank before I learned I was pregnant? How badly did the auto accident damage the embryo? I had several x-rays in the ER, did they do any damage?

Of course as soon as I told my boyfriend, he dumped me and took off. I quote, “I don’t want a kid who’s a freak with your genetic disease.” I was hot enough to date, but…  So, now I was also alone, single again. Guess what? I also lost my job! The accident mixed with my disease had caused 5 problems in my spine and nerve damage in my shoulder. I was super depressed and in a LOT of pain. Things that are not good for developing fetuses. Since I couldn’t pay rent, you’d better believe I was thinking of abortion. I had no idea, but was thinking every minute of what kind of damage my injured body was doing to my child. I wasn’t taking anything for the pain since that would cause more damage. I began spotting and was afraid I might lose the baby. It was then that I knew for sure that I couldn’t have an abortion.

Despite everything that could be wrong with the baby I knew I would love him. It would be against everything I believe in as a nature based pagan who reveres life to abort this thing growing inside me. If my body didn’t naturally abort it for having something wrong with it, then it was meant to be my child. That is MY belief. I don’t expect anyone else to follow my belief or force it on anyone else.

I had a bad pregnancy. Many medical issues. I was in the hospital twice with infections. Due to my disease, my son’s kicks broke 3 of my ribs. I didn’t have enough amniotic fluid. My blood pressure was too high. I was constantly in pain from injuries. I was depressed. There are many reasons a woman thinks of abortion or a doctor suggests it.

He is 20 years old now. It’s been a rough ride from all of his medical needs, but I do love him with all of my soul. I will fight for women everywhere to have their rights though. NO ONE should ever tell another person what they can and can’t do unless it comes to harming life willfully and with evil intent and forethought. AND…yet with that; what defines life? Humans can’t even agree on that!

 

There are over 100 definitions of life have been proposed, with most focusing on a handful of key attributes such as replication and metabolism. Virologists: seven processes that supposedly define life: movement, respiration, sensitivity, growth, reproduction, excretion and nutrition. Chemists: polymers – namely nucleic acids (the building blocks of DNA), proteins and polysaccharides – virtually the entire diversity of life is built. Astrobiologists: microorganisms capable of surviving in extreme environments. 

Technologists: artificial life can involve biologists creating new organisms in labs by stitching together parts of two or more existing life forms. But it can also be a little more abstract. There are even teams that are beginning to explore the creation of robots with life-like traits. Ever since the 1990s, when Thomas Ray’s Tierra computer software appeared to demonstrate the synthesis and evolution of digital “life forms”, researchers have been trying to create computer programs that truly simulate life.

Philosophers: Maybe the things we think are essential are really just peculiar to life on Earth. After all, everything from bacteria to lions is derived from a single common ancestor, meaning that on our chart of life in the Universe, we only really have one data point.

In the words of Sagan: “Man tends to define in terms of the familiar. But the fundamental truths may not be familiar.”

What a tragedy it would be if in the 2020s the new Mars rover trundles straight past a Martian, simply because it does not recognise it as being alive.

“The definition can actually hinder the search for novel life,” says Cleland. “We need to get away from our current concept, so that we are open to discovering life as we don’t know it.”

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170101-there-are-over-100-definitions-for-life-and-all-are-wrong

 

The Good Life

We planted a labyrinth. OK, I didn’t actually do any of the work, no, I was out there one day I think for an hour. Not hard work, mind you, sitting on my ass digging in the dirt with a garden trowel. I’d reach every once in a while for the cardboard flat of medicinal herbs and plop its tender little life into a hole. The other women, who are much more physically healthy than I am, did all the actual diagramming of the round-a-bout lines on the ground with jamming sticks into the soil and winding a thin rope around the sticks to outline where to walk and where not to walk.

We all donated to the cause to purchase the medicinal herbs to plant, and yes, again it was the other ladies who did most of that planting around and around in circles from the outside of the labyrinth to the center. It was large, I believe it was about 100 feet across in diameter. One lady and her husband and son owned the land it was on, way out in the country, next to the Mississippi River. When we were quietly working we could hear the river, but from the labyrinth we couldn’t see it. It was also a bit of a trek to get out to it from their house, at least 10 minutes to the clearing through the forest. To get to their house you also had to drive about 20 minutes from town.

We gathered there on Full Moons, Sabbats, and other celebrations. We ate marvelous food,  shared delightful conversation, and laughed until our sides ached.  Some of us went out to the labyrinth alone at times to meditate, pray, seek guidance, cry, or for another calls or needs. It was for women, though, for women’s synergy, partnership, and unity. It was for bearing each other’s good and bad and putting it back into the soil to turn back into Mother Nature, and all we could take away from it was the good bounty of medicine we’d grown and positivism and nurturance.

I had been out there alone one afternoon. I had come to the bottom of all I could endure and I was facing blackness all around me. I’d been to that pit before and I recognized it. Despair and depression, anger and suffering, and longing and I couldn’t hold it in. I should not have gone alone. I did put it into the ground, but I did not “ground” myself. I forgot to thank and walked away with dragging feet and unanswered tears and shouted cries. That night, lightning struck the rock I’d “placed” my anger within. If you’ve ever seen a rock that’s been struck by lightning, it’s pretty cool. For lightning to strike the exact center of our labyrinth, after I’d been out there-the last person to have been out there-is like what, one in a zillion?

The next day the owner of the land was calling us all to figure out the who and what. So, I the guilty party had to be present as we all gathered to heal the labyrinth. From the time we all arrived, yes, all eyes were on me. I had to be “healed”, too. It’s not as embarrassing as it sounds to have a gathering of supportive women to “cradle” you in a dark hour. I laid it out as best I could about what was going on in my life, all my needs, etc. No, of course they really couldn’t help, it was medical stuff mixed with my messed-up family stuff. Just having it out there and shared and knowing I wasn’t alone really did help. I could still feel that eyes were watching me though, but not from the group of women, this feeling was coming from the forest. It was behind me.

Whoever was watching me wasn’t bad. It didn’t make me feel creepy either. I just knew someone was still watching me. The feeling was moving around, from place to place, like telling me to hurry up. So, the women gave me healing hugs, told me healing stories, we danced “like no one is watching,” and giggled and laughed like cackling idiots. We went back to the house, walking through the wooded path with “someone” still watching me. I mentioned it to the owner of the house and she looked at me and smiled. As the other women were getting all the mouthwatering food ready to eat she took me aside. She gave me an stunning shawl that she had handmade, saying she’d thought healing thoughts for me while making it. She also said that was one of two things she had to give me, but the other had to wait.

Those “eye” still watched me from outside while I ate. Now it felt like someone endearing me to “please share?” I can’t tell you how I knew these thoughts. They just popped into my mind from out of nowhere. How could this “someone” know I was enjoying a sumptuous repast inside the house? What on earth was going on? Finally, it was getting late and I really did need to get home to my child. The ladies gifted me with the lightning stabbed rock to take home and leftover mini-doughnuts: one package of cinnamon flavor and one package of powdered sugar. The owner walked me to the door and to my car, and as I opened the back door to place all my “gifts”; out of the woods a black shadow suddenly charged and jumped into the backseat! The owner of the land said, “we’re all allergic, but she showed up last night after the storm. I figure since she’s been watching you all day she must be yours.”

A black cat imperiously sat on the back seat. Not afraid of us or anything. She came towards me, meowed, and rubbed against my arm and said “hello human.” Since she wasn’t afraid of people I figure she’d been thrown away by someone, just like me. I thanked my host for ALL of the gifts, told the cat she could stay, and got into the front seat and shut the door. She wasn’t very old, a little less than 2 years old, maybe? Skinny. Beautiful golden eyes. A very long cat with long legs and short sleek black fur. My infant would love to pull its tail. I did have one cat at home already. My sister called me one day and asked if I’d take hers before her asshole husband killed it. Of course I did. Tempest was a black & white very fluffy long-hair that slept with my son, sat next to my son always. I think that cat thought my son was hers.

As I drove home, the “eyes” stopped. I figured the cat had fallen asleep. My friend and I were deep in conversation anyway. Suddenly my friend burst out laughing! She told me I didn’t need to think of a name for my cat; it had one. What? She was busy eating the ENTIRE bag of cinnamon doughnuts! So, OK golden eyes, those cinnamon looking golden eyes…you are hereby dubbed: Cinnamon. When I said it she looked up long enough to give us a loud “meow,” so I guess that was an OK.

She was right at home in my adobe. When I brought her into the house she went right for the couch, like she’d been there before, lay down and went to sleep. Well, she did have a very full stomach. She and Tempest got along, too. They played together and they both loved my son. She never cared when getting her tail pulled or an entire handful of fur or an ear. I actually lived in a mobile home. As my son grew, their favorite games were throwing super balls down the hallway and watching Cinnamon chase them bouncing around or rolling Hot Wheels down the hall and watching Cinn try to catch them while on the tracks or off the “jumps” and ramps.

When my son was three we moved across town into a house. The cats didn’t mind the move. Actually, it was Cinnamon who alerted me to wake up when the house was on fire! A guy had been putting insulation in the attic earlier in the day and his light had started it on fire, but he’d thought he’d put it out. 2 AM ,Cinnamon on my feet, I awoke to the nastiest smell I’ve ever smelled. It was difficult to completely wake, though. I then wandered the house trying to figure out the smell. I went outside and saw flames coming out of the side of my house! I ran inside to get my son, but he was difficult to wake, too and the fire was burning inside his closet. I half held, half dragged him outside into the snow. It was Easter Sunday in MN, so yes, snow on the ground. I left him standing in the snow and went back inside to find the phone. I didn’t have a cell phone. I called 911 and went back outside to wait. They came, we both got oxygen for our coughing, and we cried for them to find our cats who had disappeared.

We were homeless for 2 months. The cats were found and housed in a kennel while I at first went from the couch at my sister’s, then to a room at my brother’s then to a hotel for a month, because as I stated earlier my family is screwed up. Getting back into our home and getting back to our beloved cats was a blessing. My son had lost everything in his room, but he had his Tempest. Yes, Tempest had become HIS. Tempest was his world. Cinnamon had become mine. We share a rare bone disease. Every time my son is injured Tempest was there. Tempest was better than ANY medication. Going 2 months without our cats was horrible. Cinnamon had saved our lives.

I believe Cinnamon was our/my body guard or something. At least she thought so. At times she was sort of like having a dog around. A watch cat. She always stayed in the yard when we were outside. If people were walking by she walked the perimeter of the yard, making sure they didn’t come over the threshold. If a dog was walking by with someone, oh boy did that dog get the stink-eye! IF a dog was on its own and came into the yard she actually chased them out of the yard! Yes, dogs were afraid of my cat. She turned into a big cat, too. At her biggest she weighed 18 pounds. She didn’t look round either. She was just big.

I am an animal lover. So is my son. At one time he even thought of becoming a veterinarian. He discovered how long they have to go to school though, and thought better of that. We volunteered at the local humane society taking care of cats and walking dogs. Mostly taking care of the cats. My sister called one day and said there was a couple of strays at her work and could I help. My son and I went to help. We caught them. Now what to do? I found a home for the adult male, but couldn’t say no to my son about the yearling. So now we had three cats. This one is a tortoise shell who was very well camouflaged under the bushes at my sister’s restaurant. Hence her new name: Camouflage, Cami for short. The other two cats didn’t seems to mind, too much.

A short year later a friend’s daughter’s cat had kittens and the mom said no, they couldn’t keep them. I made the mistake of visiting before she gave them all away. Now we added a little black runt of the litter to our house. The first male of the brood, hmmm, how would THIS go over? The first real kitten, too. OMG, yes, holes in the curtains and holes in my legs! Those little claws are hypodermic needles! Cinnamon was having none of it. My son LOVED it! This little guy was quite the acrobat and he played fetch! Right away he, like, did flying jump aerials off the walls! My son is a computer, Xbox playing total nerd. This kitten was named: Ninja! Cinnamon and Tempest and Cami DID get used to having a kitten around, eventually. I think it even perked them up and rejuvenated them a bit.

We had a few years with the four cats running around playing together. Tempest became the matriarch and Cinnamon the bouncer. I tried to teach them all to use a leash. That did NOT work. Older cats will not do it. I though since Ninja was a kitten we could teach him, but nope. He was just too energetic and was not gonna wear something that might “keep him down.” Cami, she dances to a different drum. I made all the cats become indoor cats. They live longer that way, and it’s easier to keep track of them. No way was Cami going to do that. She is some kind of Houdini. She can slip between legs, open door slots the size of a pea, I swear it. I can NOT keep her inside the house. I can’t keep a collar on her either. I’ve tried all sorts of collars. She can get out of them all. She will get out of them, or die trying. She also goes on walkabouts. Yup. She disappears. In the summer she will be gone for 2 months at a time. Just when we’ve given up hope and think she’s been killed by something, she’ll come trotting up the driveway. She’ll be just a little thin, with a Cheshire grin on her face.

Drat. They figured us out. My nephew called and said there was a little cat behind the dumpster at his job. Said she was half frozen and would I rescue her, please Auntie? Oh, hell, of course. Another black one. This one has thumbs. No kidding, she looks like she’s wearing mittens. We soon discover her cuteness is a disguise so she can use these to grab your food while you’re sucked in by her itty bitty little cutey face. Yes, this polydactyle (geeze, I know I’m spelling that wrong,) creature uses this feature to actually stick out her thumb and inch it forward to grab things, like food off your plate. Like the Madagascar Penguins: You See Nothing. When we received her it was obvious that she had just given birth, as all her “plates” were set. We assume they froze to death, poor dears. So we named her “Lil’ Mama in remembrance to her lost litter. She stayed little, sort of. She is a short, stubby legged, little round barrel.

Don’t shake your head at us, yes, we did it again. I have since learned to say no. The elders, Tempest and Cinnamon, took me aside and begged me to say no. A lady called and said a cat showed up. She had large dogs and didn’t want this cat. Would I? Could I find it a home? She was SOOO cute? Totally white! C’mon, we had black cats. We had to keep the white one. It was Feng Shui! It was Yin and Yang! It was Karma! Her moniker became: Blizzard. Perfect for a MN cat. Until she grew up and her coat told us she was Siamese. My son then said, OK so there’s dirt swirling around in the blizzard. Sure, that actually makes sense for a cat that plays tag with herself at 10 PM every  night. Well, I think that’s what she’s doing anyway. Not quite sure why she runs around to every room at that time of night, every cotton-pickin’ night. At midnight she and Mama play tag together. It’s like elephants rumbling around the house.

Don’t let dog-lovers tell you that cats are boring. They like to say that cats don’t play. Phooey! Apparently they have never seen more than one cat at a time. Cats like to play “wrestle” just like rag-tag little boys. It’s a silent pantomime of what the big cats do to their prey in the wild. It’s a lot like watching a pro boxing match, except there’s teeth involved. Cats also like to play tag; a lot. This game is best played when humans are around so you can be underfoot. Also, you have to tag the tail or it isn’t a true tag and you are still “it.” I’ve seen that. The same cat really does have to still go after the other one. Cats will also play hide-and-seek. Hiding under the chair that a human is currently occupying is the BEST hiding place, because waiting on top of the chair until you come out an inch at a time to peek, then the cat who is “it” runs down the human to “find” you is the best way to find you. Tag-team playing with human feet is allowed ONLY if ONE of you gets the sock. Chasing your own tail is only allowed within the confines of the human bathtub.

That last one was Cinnamon’s game. I never could actually catch her on camera playing it. When I’d see her in the bathtub chasing her tail in circles, I’d turn to go get my phone and if she saw me, wham, out of the tub. She was done. I have no proof. I couldn’t get her playing ANYTHING on camera! Like she just wasn’t going to allow me proof that she would ever do anything beneath being stoic. The old bodyguard standing watch over her family. If the herd, the other cats, got out of line and got too close to her, she just squashed them, literally. She’d put out a giant paw and squish their head down to the floor! Floof! As if to say, “stop it.” If they really pissed her off, which I can honestly say I only saw I think twice, she had a killer fast right paw that struck out so fast you could hardly see it, that hit 5 times in a row really really hard. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. Thump. I saw her do it to a dog, and it dazed the dog. I got in between her paw and the cat she was going to do it too when she got senile, and my hand went numb. She hit hard. She also had 6 toes, so her paw was large.

We’ve been in this house for 15 years now. A lively house with a family of 6 cats and two humans. We’ve had two other boys come and go, friends of my son who lived with us for a while. They loved the cats, too. A couple of other women lived here, too, friends of mine. It’s a small house, but full of love for our furry members. Tempest made it to 23 years old before we had to let her go. She nursed my son through 80+ broken bones and 10 surgeries. Cinnamon crossed that bridge two weeks ago, she was around 20. We grow ’em old here. Putting her “out of pain” was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

She was the bestest best friend I ever had. My constant companion. My best listener. My secret keeper. My tear dryer. She helped me to keep my courage when things were at the worst, for dignity is what a cat does best. I can see the days past when it was her who chased away strangers on my lawn. It was her who attacked any dogs, up to 4 times her size, that came near us, to protect us. She ruled this roost with an iron paw and kept all the other cats in line. She found me after someone else threw her away. Their loss was my gain. Her first hungry meal in my back seat of that bag of cinnamon doughnuts sealed the deal. Friends to the end. She became an elder and we taught each other a lot. We were together for 18 long years, but she was at least 20 or so (in human years anyway.)

The other cats sniffed around looking for their elder friend and seemed a little confused since she is not in her regular places. There is a palpable empty feeling, a definite knowledge that one is missing. A feeling in the room that is gone. Her essence, or aura, was so “there”, so felt. I think it will take a few days for it to all fade. She’s under the large Lilac with Tempest now. They liked to lie there in the shade in the summer and roll in the catnip. I let her outside her last day. One more time to walk in the sunshine. It was a beautiful day. She taught me a lot about mothering and a lot about chasing my tail with dignity. That’s what’s it’s about, right? Living the Good Life.

#forgottentimes

Spending quality time with good friends. Do teen-aged girls have the market cornered on this? Is this phenomenon a thing of the past, passed by now by the electronic age of “smart” gadgets that have human beings “talking” to each other over screens instead of actual face to face. I mean, actually using their voices, vocal cords, not text speech or an electronic or computer voice over a screen or microphone – even if they’re in the same room – to have an actual conversation for more than 10 seconds constitutes quality time these days.

I am so incredibly happy to have just had several hours of delightful conversation with two ladies. I got out of my house, away from all screens, and had actual face to face time with friends. It was a reminder of how comforting it can be to be around people with similar likes/dislikes, activities, and situations. It was relaxing to just be able and sit back to enjoy laughter and tears about topics such as our kids, jobs, and even just life in general.

Too often in this age everything is about rush rush rush. Getting everything done as quickly as possible. We have drive through fast food places, drive through pharmacies, drive through coffee places, drive through banks, and even drive through liquor stores. Almost everything we do can be done on a screen that fits in our pocket, almost everything we need can be delivered to our doorstep, and much of what we use can be thrown in the garbage. American Society is about: hurry up, take no care, take nothing personal, care for no one, throw it out.

Whoa, slow it down! I think we all need to slow it down and take the time to make a big effort to make sure we mark it on the calendar right now to force ourselves to be with family and friends and away from the screens, the drive-throughs, and the garbage. We NEED to take days to cook slow food. Make an actual meal at home to sit at a table and eat with guests and enjoy great conversation. Send left-overs home with those we care about to enjoy later.

We allow ourselves to get too busy with work and family life. We don’t make time for friends and volunteering. That’s backwards. Family life is more full when it includes friends and community efforts. I don’t care what you do. Walk the neighbor’s dog once in a while for Pete’s sake. Yes. I suggest you know your neighbor. Gasp! What a concept! Shovel the driveway for the elderly couple down the block even though they don’t know you and they didn’t ask. Don’t take any money for doing it. Just smile. Make new friends. Guess what? You weren’t on a screen for a few minutes, you got some exercise, and you made someone’s day.

The world is full of things to do besides our jobs and the smart phones. GO see a friend. Yup. Just. Go. Do. It. I did. I’ve missed it. Yes, I’m the one without a job. I know she’s a busy person with a job and teen girls who keep her on the run. It makes it very difficult to grab any time to get together. I finally saw her car at home when I was on a run to get milk. So, I just simply stopped by. Is that rude? Maybe. Was she busy? She didn’t say she was. She IS the type of person to let me know if she is. A few minutes later another friend of hers came over, too. The three of us chatted for several hours. Not only did I get to see my friend, but perhaps I made a new one.

It had been quite a while. In fact we had only seen each other I think once in the past year or two. We follow each other on Facebook. We “like” each other’s posts from time to time and might post a comment here or there, but we just couldn’t find time to get together. We also each had things going on. Some pretty serious things to deal with. A few years ago we had a falling out over politics. I still have some reservations that we will never see eye to eye about some pretty heavy stuff. However, I think we really could have helped each other deal with and been there for each other with these serious things we’ve gone through in the past few years if we hadn’t been so stubborn.

We’re not besties, but I sure do miss the fun times and the conversations. We used to have game nights and movie nights and heck, just sit around the fire nights. It’s nice to have girl’s nights. Ya gotta have some time to have the ladies to chat with, adults to sit and dish with, when all you’ve got at home is a house full of teen boys. I’ve had a house full of teen boys for years now. As a single mom I’m really missing chatting with adults! Chatting through posts on Facebook just doesn’t quite do the trick.

These teens can have their screens. They are forgetting how to communicate. They are forgetting how to BE human beings! I fear humans will lose the ability to actually verbally speak if technology takes over “speaking” for us through screens. I mean, these kids today can be sitting right next to each other and not face each other or verbally speak to each other. They will still text on their phones to talk to each other! It’s amazing to watch. Actually it’s scary.

They can take their screens and shove it! I thoroughly enjoyed my live time with my lady friends tonight. Here’s to doing it more often! (Glasses clinking!)