The Founder’s Pen

~by Susi Pittman

March 2, 2015: Longfellow

I had moved to Georgia in early spring of 2012, kind of a reorganization of life in new surroundings. The home that I moved into was located on acreage in a quiet neighborhood bordering the Grand Bay Wildlife Management Area. Beautiful Sandhill Cranes were already in the area by the hundreds and the Azalea’s were starting to bloom.

All of my rescue pets had begun to settle into their new surroundings and found that staying on the back screened-in porch at nights was pure entertainment! Nightly visitors included deer and possum, raccoons and foxes. I will never forget the night that I stepped out into the yard late one night with my dog Buddy for a last walk and found myself frozen in place as I was looking eye-to-eye with one of the biggest bucks I had ever seen. He was for sure an eight-pointer and looked at me with a regal stare that said I am the king of these parts. It was awesome! In a split moment, he had turned and with one very large leap had disappeared into the forest night.

It was early in summer, when I was once again walking Buddy down our road that I started noticing this large, lanky black cat observing us from the dense brush at particular points in our walk. I started calling him Longellow, basically because of his appearance and because most of my cats are named for books or authors. It was a routine that occurred on a daily basis and one I looked forward to. I had started placing a small bowl of food in an obscure area that was accessible by him and not much else.

In September of the year, walking out to the carport to get into my car, I was pleasantly surprised when Longfellow walked out from the hedge and right up to me. It was just such a rewarding moment to know that he had decided to trust me. Observing him up close allowed me to see he was an older un-neutered tomcat that had seen his share of recent fights. His face appeared to be swollen in a way that I was sure there was pain involved.

I attempted to pet him and he rubbed and purred against my leg. He let me look at his wounds and I knew I had to get him to the doctors. He loaded into the crate like he had done the routine before. That was my first clue that he had been someone’s pet at one time. The doctor took one look at his wounds and kept him for an immediate operation due to the infection that was setting in.

Longfellow was now officially my cat. I had invested my heart in him and upon his return home, if he wanted, he could choose to be my cat.

The doctor suggested that I keep him inside for the next few days and continue the antibiotics to insure that he would heal and get well. So, upon bringing him into the house, I was just a little apprehensive about Longfellow wanting to cooperate. He walked out of the crate and immediately went into the kitchen, jumping up onto the far edge of the counter and sitting down. It was like he knew where he was. He then jumped down and went selectively from room to room, inspecting and sniffing and lingering a good bit in my office. It was like a smell in that room gave him comfort.

It was a few days later, I was filling the bird feeder in my front yard as a neighbor was walking by and I walked out to catch her for a moments conversation. I explained about this mysterious black cat that I had been part of my daily walk and how he was now recouperating inside. I told her, “It’s the strangest thing, he acts like he knows the house very well.” To which she replied, “Oh, if it is that big black cat, he does, the folks that used to live there left him behind. They said he had feline aids.”

Mystery solved.

First of all, when does age or health dictate that a pet family member is no longer a viable part of the family? Second of all, God bless this poor cat that for months has lived on nothing but frogs, lizards, birds and handouts! And come to find out, the room which I now used as my office used to be the children’s bedroom. It was obvious that there was a longing…a missing of his family just by the way he acted as the days went on.

Longfellow has been a part of my family now for three years, and a dearer cat you will never know. He is patient, kind and has become the “big daddy” to all the other felines, who do indeed show a respect particular to feline behavior. He absolutely adores the grandchildren, as they fill that void of the ones he loved so much in his past life. I love Longfellow and I can’t imagine not having him there to greet me each morning with his sweet meow. Longfellow loves his new life and has left his lankiness behind…he has managed to put on a good bit of weight, now tipping the scales at 16 pounds, and lives to groom in the sunshine of the south facing window on cold days.

I am always grateful to Jesus when he brings me into union with each animal, be it wild or domestic. Every pet I have has its unique story. They were all cast-offs or left behinds. To me they are treasures and a constant reminder that Jesus is present to me in their being. Creation and its creatures after all, are a reflection of His love. Peace be with you.

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Susi Pittman is founder of CatholicStewardsofCreation.com and Owner-President of Twin Oaks Publishing; she is author of Animals in Heaven? Catholics Want to Know!; an advocate for the Florida Catholic Conference; a member of the St. Joseph’s Catholic Council of Women in Jacksonville, Florida; an Associate of the Sisters of St. Joseph, St. Augustine;a member of the Florida Publishers Association, Independent Book Publishers Association, the National Association of Professional Women, the ASPCA, the Humane Society of the United States and the National Audubon society.

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