Monday, September 7, 2009

Shelby Rose

She walks into the laundromat, with her overloaded basket of dirty clothes, wearing Riders high-waisted jeans that are 2 sizes too small. The breeze from the door catches her feathered bangs and permed blonde hair with dusty brown roots. She removes her pack of Virginia Slims from her left back pocket and searches for her lighter in the other. She goes about her routine in this arena. It is clear that this is a place that she knows all too well. She sorts her children's clothes and places the quarters into the slots. She walks outside and sits on the sidewalk, lighting up a cigarette. She is not a perfect woman. Hard-working, honest, and humble. She works too hard for what little she has. The most untainted love for her children pushes her to take chances that she probably shouldn't.

Her name is Shelby Rose. And if she were a person, that is who I imagine she would be.

She is my cat. And this is her story.

Shelby was a stray cat that had 2 kittens. She lived behind our apartment on 7th Street in Terre Haute. When we first found her, she was feral and wouldn't come near us. We diligently put out food for her and her babies. We waited and talked to her for weeks. And eventually, she let us pet her. We named her "Stray" and made a make-shift shelter for her when winter came. It wasn't until she started walking with a limp that we brought her in. We took her to the vet and had some tests ran. She was then our Shelby cat. We found a home for one of her kittens. Unfortunately, the other kitten didn't make it. We brought her in with our 2 other cats, Pepper and Lillian. And they became friends after a week or two of ironing out the hierarchy. She was a mother to them and one of the most playful of all of our pets. She would run around and bat those annoying balls all over that apartment.

We have had Shelby for around 7-8 years. And I didn't know that losing a pet would hurt so much. As I type this, she is laying a few feet from me, slowly passing away. Shelby has a very aggressive form of mammary gland cancer. The tumors grew quickly and spread all over her little body... too many to count. I am grateful for the chance to say goodbye to her. But it is so hard to imagine this house without her flinging the ant pieces from the boys' ants in the pants game around on the dining room floor. Or without picking up her "chuck" when she eats too much. Or without her laying at the base of the recliner when I rock the boys to sleep as she rubs her head on my feet. Walking in and finding her asleep on a freshly folded pile of clothes on my bed and not moving her, because she looks so sweet. Seeing her in the window when I pull into the drive. Watching her and Ramona (my dog) lay in the sun together. They were best friends.

I learned some life lessons from Shebby-sher...

Love people, just because.

What good would it be to have a world full of people that fit my idea of what perfect is? You see, Shelby had colitis (inflammation of the colon) and it caused her to urinate in places that are soft and comfortable, like my clean or dirty laundry. This would aggravate me to no end. And I would get so angry with her. But it wasn't her fault. She was doing what she had to do. And regardless if I thought it was the right thing or not, it was what she had to do for her. It made things smelly and made extra work for me... but it wasn't something that she could do any differently. I have a hard time accepting people for who they are. More so, I have a really hard time accepting the decisions that people make, when I think that they should do it differently. And this causes strain on those relationships. Shelby has taught me that I am not the one to decide what is right for other people. I just have to be there and love them, even when it is smelly.


Carolyn said...

I remember when she chunked on the windowsill and it had dried and I thought that it was just a knick-knack decoration you I didn't clean it up. Good times.

Anonymous said...

Well, I loved that!! Thanks Sunny!