Life Lessons From Furry Friends Pt. 4

Garfield

Garfield truly deserves his namesake. He is a massive 21 lb orange Maine Coon mix that loves affection and eating food. He is smart and lazy and uses his intelligence to assist in his laziness. Above all, Garfield is persistent. It’s a quality I have grown to admire and delight in watching him display.

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Garfield was adopted with his sister Elphaba (who I will write about next) when they were just a few weeks old. They were abandoned in a barn and my sister’s friend was trying to find good homes for them. My sister has always loved the cartoon Garfield, it was her favorite all through childhood, so when she saw this little orange fluffball needed a home she could not say no. Garfield quickly melted the hearts of all who came in contact with him. He was deeply affectionate and loved cuddles. His personality was only aided by his undeniable cuteness. As he grew older we began to witness some of his most entertaining quirks in development.

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First of all, no amount of attention was ever enough. Garfield needed a way to solve this dilemma and somehow knew meowing endlessly was not the way to go about it. He observed the way people interacted, standing on two feet, and decided to try it out himself. Typically, when he stands on two feet this is enough to get a few pets, but when even that novelty wears off Garfield will gently paw the person he seeks attention from. As if he is petting them to let them know they can now return the favor. When that person has exhausted their potential he will simply move on to the next candidate and begin to tenderly paw at them until they comply with his wishes. Gentle paw not doing the trick? He will literally grab your hand with his two paws and pull it down to his body. Persistence.

Garfield standing

Garfield and Elphaba share their food and water bowls, but sometimes Garfield doesn’t want to share. If they are both going to eat at the same time he will take his paw and pull the bowl away from Elphaba and begin eating. Sure enough, Elphaba will pause as if to ask herself, “Why did that bowl just move?”, and then she will move forward and push Garfield out of the way. He then will patiently pull the bowl farther from her and begin to eat again. This process will continue until his hunger and taunting has been satisfied. Then he will move onto another activity.

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One activity he enjoys is chasing light. This is a game that he WILL NOT stop. You always have to be the one to stop it. I’m not sure what it is about this game in particular, but once he gets his sight on a beam of light, there’s no stopping his chasing until the light has completely disappeared. He does not care that his paw touches where the light is at least a dozen times, he does not care that no matter how many times he’s played this game he’s never actually “caught” the light… he will not give up.

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Garfield is a cat who enjoys the simple pleasures in life: attention, food, taunting his sister, and chasing light. He knows what he likes and he goes after it without any hesitation, guilt, or second-guessing. Not only does he endlessly entertain me, but he has proven what a powerful trait persistence really is.

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Check out my other  Life Lessons From Furry Friends posts here!:

Life Lessons From Furry Friends Pt. 1

Life Lessons From Furry Friends Pt. 2

Life Lessons From Furry Friends Pt. 3

Footprints in the Sand

When my mom first shared this story with me, even as a child, I easily gleaned its importance to her. We sat on her side of the bed, the room dark, but for her small nightstand light providing a welcoming glow. The words were printed on a bookmark, and she read the story aloud, glancing up to catch my eyes, insuring my rapt attention. And, as a child often does, I wondered in awe of my mother’s wisdom. To me, she was not reading someone else’s words or story. The tie she felt wove its way into her speech so that the language became her own. She stared at me for a moment when her heart had been lifted by the sharing of stirring words. I don’t remember what conversation passed between us after, only that I carried the moment and message forever after. Now, I have a chance to intertwine myself and share my own version.

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I think of my mom often. I think of what our relationship would be now if Alzheimer’s hadn’t come to claim her body and infect her mind. Now I must rely on my memories of my childhood. Memory is such an unreliable thing, but these words I write, they help me remember.

My dad always carried this air of intelligence. When he spoke to me I would marvel at his charisma and strive to earn his approval as he taught me the power of experience and wisdom. He insured I understood the difference between that and intellect, and although both important, the real goal is the journey to wisdom.

My mom did not speak like this. She did not spell out lessons or share time-worn stories riddled with morals. Where my dad’s cleverness and penchant for solving puzzles eagerly filled space with awe, my mom’s heart delicately encased it. And so, I was taught gentleness with wisdom, kindness with logic, and love with reason. These scales are not always balanced, but I yearn to honor them both and make it so.

The Footprints though, my mom did share that story. And how poetic, how unifying when I reflect on it now. My mom marveled at how when the narrator is at the lowest of the low they cry out in anguish to be left alone by their Savior, when in fact He had been carrying them through the bleakest of moments, the darkest of nights.

My mom only had one boyfriend, one husband, one love. She met my dad when she was twenty and that was that. When she was diagnosed he helped her make and complete a bucket list. And now, even as we near the inevitable end, he is still by her side, caring for her more than most spouses will ever have to care for each other. He stayed for better and for the literal worst. Her white knight, her caregiver, her endless one love.

I was in the car the other day listening to Sia. My mind slightly wandering until I hear her sing the words, “Your footprints in the sand“. I remembered the story my mom had shared with me all those years ago. I heard her sing, “but you were carrying me, carrying me to safety” and it hit me.

My mom can no longer make her own footprints in the sand. She could not control her toes to squeeze them through the warm sand, letting it sift over her skin. But now, in her bleakest moments, in her darkest hours, my dad carries her. And I know when she looks back at her journey she will see their path together as they wandered through forests and scaled mountains, as they struggled through hard times and basked in the good, how they raised three children and embedded themselves in a community, how they supported each other through career and job changes, how they embraced nature with an understanding that few posses… Yes, she will look back and see how long they traveled together and then she will marvel when the two footprints become one, knowing exactly who it was that carried her to safety.

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Life Lessons From Furry Friends Pt. 3

Scott

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted one of these, and that’s because Scott stumped me and I refused to go out of order! The original idea was that I would pick one lesson from each pet I have owned. I just could not decide what lesson to pluck from living with Scott. I thought maybe humor because he was such a funny character he always made everyone laugh. Now, I’d just like to tell his story, and maybe by the end I’ll narrow down one word like forgiveness or patience (from part 1 and 2)…and maybe I won’t. :p

Scott

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Life Lessons From Furry Friends Pt. 1

Tiger and Fluffy

Neither Tiger nor Fluffy really matched their names. Tiger just barely had a touch of orange and the occasional black stripe whereas Fluffy was just clearly not fluffy in any way. We got these two cats as kittens together when my siblings and I were very young. They were the first baby animals we ever had to care for and that became apparent when my sister and I thought we’d try a little science experiment with them.

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