Friday, April 16, 2021

Let Me Know You're Here

Before my mother passed away in 2000 (gosh, so long ago), we had a discussion about the after life. I don't believe in heaven and spending time bowing to Jesus - doesn't sound like much fun, really - and I am ok with turning into ant food.

I do think, though, there is a spiritual part of living creatures that goes into the universe. Sometimes it stays whole, sometimes it moves on to another star. We're all breathing the air of our ancestors.

My family didn't raise me with religion. We didn't attend church. I went to church for a while after I turned 18, and was baptized, but as the evangelicals rose, my interest waned. I wanted no part of what they were preaching. They preach a small god. My goddess is vast and encompasses everything, and is all about love and goodness. She has no time for the pettiness of a small god, and the preachers I heard preached a very petty, mean and vindictive god.

Anyway, during this long-ago conversation, my mother asked me how how she could let me know there was an after life if there was one. I told her to send me something orange. Orange is not a color I am fond of, and it is not a color I have much, if anything at all, of. I remember sitting on the edge of her hospital bed, watching her say to herself over and over, "orange" before she fell asleep. 

My mother passed away that August. The following spring, about this time of year, my dog Ginger died. She was 17 years old. I was overwrought and terribly distraught at the loss of my dog, especially so close to the time I lost my mother. Ginger was an outside pet, but I had spent a lot of time going to the back door and talking to her. It took me a long time to stop watching for her to run up to the car when I came home.

Shortly after Ginger died, an orange cat showed up on the front porch. It was sick with distemper and had to be put down.

That was followed by a sandy colored (almost orange) dog. This was an older animal that seemed well-cared for, groomed, and smelling nice of powder. We put up flyers, called neighbors, and placed an ad in the paper (pre-Facebook, remember), but no one claimed the dog. This animal was obviously an inside pet, and we couldn't keep him because of my allergies, so we gave him to someone who wanted him. It bothered me that we couldn't find that dog's real owner.

Then it was June and my birthday came around. I was 38 years old. My friends took me to lunch, or came to my house and had lunch.

One friend brought me a rose bush for my rose garden. I planted it, and not long after, the bud that was already on it bloomed out.

It was a brilliant orange. It bloomed orange every year around my birthday up until about five years ago, when the bush died. By then, I think I had resolved most of my issues with my mother in my mind.

After the rose, I received no more orange. I received a black cat. The black cat appeared on my mother's birthday, when she would have been 57. It was a feral cat, and I would see it in the front yard often. There was no reason for the cat to hang around the house, as I did not feed it. It would have been better off at the barn, but it seemed to like the front yard.

I decided it was my mother. I thought this because my mother had been sure that my grandfather had come to my grandmother as a black cat after he died. The day of his funeral, when my grandmother went home, there was a black cat hanging around the porch. It stayed for a year, and disappeared on the day my grandfather died, never to be seen again.

Apparently this had happened with other deaths in the family and was a well-known conceit about the dearly departed in our lineage. Black cats come along after the dead are gone.

So I felt sure the black cat was my mother's final way of showing up. Sure enough, the cat hung around until August the following year, and then it stopped visiting. The next time I saw it was when my brother had his daughter a few years later. I caught a glimpse then of the black cat slipping through the yard at twilight, and I woke the next morning and went to see my new niece at the hospital even though at that time my brother and I were not in a good spot in our relationship and I wasn't sure I would be welcome. My sister-in-law expressed surprise at seeing me, but how could I not go?

After that, when I saw a black cat in the front yard, I expected something was up in the family. Usually it was. But I haven't seen the black cat since the rose bush died.

1 comment:

  1. My grandmother saw her baby brother at the foot of her bed durning a time when she was troubled about money and my grandfather finding work to support them. She always had premonitions or warning dreams and feelings when something was about to happen. I know a lot of people don’t believe in this stuff or call it witchcraft. She was seldom wrong and I have done it several times myself. When I was a child she told me that when someone dies and it rains, it is tears of joy from angels that a new soul has entered heaven. My grandmother died on July 3rd the day after her birthday and it was the hottest week so far in the year. The night before her funeral I asked grandma for a sign that she was ok and In heaven. The next day right before we left for the funeral home there was a small sprinkle of a shower that immediately disappeared like a cloudburst. It only rained at our house and lasted only a few minutes. The temperature was 102 outside and the sun never stopped shinning bright. Coincidence? Maybe. I like to think it was grandma letting me know she was ok. . I have also had contact with my mom twice since she died last year. I’m not ready to share those yet.


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