A little late on this post. A window on a cat’s desire…
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When I was younger and full of spunk, that was my answer.
But that was before society crashed into my psyche and started asking why I do nearly everything I do. Why do you do that? What were you thinking? What was your motive? What do you suppose happened? What will you do in the future to change?
I’ve apologized for so many things I’ve done, small and large, until I feel like I’m going to break. Self-esteem has hit rock bottom off and on for 50 years. And you know what? I don’t know why I do a lot of things. And I’m tired of explaining, justifying, apologizing.
I finally remembered something my mom said years ago, and it’s my mantra now. “Because it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
This is my philosophy from now on. Why not?
So much for crocheting that afghan. Recently, I discovered what Piero had been up to for the last few weeks. It’s not a pretty sight.
When I carried him upstairs and asked him what he thought he was doing, he looked at me and ‘told me’ that he did it for love.
And then I melted when I saw what he meant.
The day after La Befana will always be the day we put down our beloved Vladimir, who had been gravely ill with intestinal cancer. Five years ago on a sunny January 7th, his time was up and my heart still cries a little.
Vladimir, “so dignified and pure of heart” as our brother-in-law, Eddie, wrote, will be forever etched into my life and soul. Our beginnings here in Italy were made all the more wonderful with his presence.
An excerpt from my book, The Field Stones of Umbria, describes his last two days with us:
He spent the last few days of his life resting in the gardens, in the sunshine. He had stopped eating again, and this time we knew it was the end. The day before we put him down, I sat with him in the Japanese garden for an hour. We listened to the horses in the field, the sheep and their bells in the hills, and he watched the birds with his usual intensity.
A large woodpecker landed near the bamboo, and he leaped off my lap. Even though he couldn’t eat and was down to nine pounds from twenty, his instinct as a great hunter flashed for another moment. He was poetry in motion and I momentarily forgot that he was about to die.
The next day, when it was time to go, I found him in the lower meadow near the stream. I picked him up, his poor skinny body weighing nothing, and he draped himself on my shoulder. We walked all around the grounds, and I talked to him about the fields, the stream, the olive trees, the meadow, the lavender and rosemary, the bamboo and Japanese maples. I told him that all of “his nature” would miss his beautiful presence. He touched his nose to my lips, our secret kiss that we’d coveted for 12 years.
It was time to go. Pavel and I didn’t talk on the way to the vet. What is there to say? You have to do this, and there’s no turning back.
I held him while he was going under, Pavel at my side, both of us crying. The roller coaster of emotion had taken its last uphill climb. Our vet was amazing. Vladimir didn’t feel anything. He died peacefully. She cried with us.
We remember all of his antics, his playing, his purrs in the night. He still kisses me in his secret way. But most of all, we see his beautiful eyes gazing directly at us—questioning, understanding, loving, and connecting as no other animal has ever done.
Vladimir. So dignified and pure of heart.
Inside watching his favorite wild-life show…
Normally don’t post two…but couldn’t resist this one. So wistful as he’s no longer with us.
So far away.
Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?
It would be so fine to see your face at my door.
Doesn’t help to know you’re just time away…
-Carole King, Tapestry, 1971.
One of the hardest things (perhaps really the only hard thing) about living in Italy is that we’re so far away from our loved ones. I wouldn’t trade living in Italy for anything else, and yet… If only we could beam everyone here for the weekend!
At night, when I go out on the terrace to hear the footfalls of the deer in the fields, the night birds, the rain, or look at the moon, I think of our family in the U.S., our friends, my mom. So many things I want to tell her about, but alas, I can’t. At least not in reality. I can still tell her about the music we’ve just listened to, which she would love. Or the full moon–her passion. Or something our little Olinka did today, like climbing the olive tree.
When one lives as an outsider in a foreign country, it takes courage to keep the spirits up, to make new friends, to keep appreciating the amazing things one has. At least we made the choice to live here. The thought of the millions of refugees around the world who have been tossed out of their homelands because of tyrannical governments, religion, slave-trade, or war…well, it’s just impossible to fathom their cruel fate.
So, the moment of sadness passes, the thankfulness we feel for our lives returns, and the good memories dance in my mind. They warm the heart. They make it all worthwhile being so far away.