Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Tortie Tuesday: Heather Plays Peacemaker (Again)

It's a Tuesday. Tortie Tuesday, the day when cat bloggers everywhere post tributes to our beautiful orange-and-black, or orange-black-and-white, or buff-gray-and-cream-colored cats. I am not in that sort of mood. Yesterday, when I burned the trash that included a visiting tomcat's extra-disgusting, streppy-smelling mess, my cat Irene went around and kissed the garbage barrel, nonverbally saying, "But it was a souvenir of a dear friend!" Most of the time I can relate to my cats, but...well, actually, I think this lack of empathy for Irene's feelings has roots in the lack of empathy I feel for women who act idiotic and sentimental about men who should only hope, after a couple million years in the afterlife, to become good enough for these women to wipe their boots on.

And then this morning, when I stumbled out of the house feeling streppy and yucky, Irene's precious little daughter Violet ran right out in front of where I was walking and dropped another load of fresh germs right on the path. Of course, Violet was nonverbally saying, "I don't feel well, do you know why, can you help?" Of course, this is a danger point--Violet's made it past the age where I expected to lose her to Manx Syndrome entire and alone, hurrah, but if she's inherited milder forms of the typical Manx weaknesses, or other weaknesses, her first infectious illness could still wipe her out. Of course, deep down inside I want Irene to have one living daughter to love, before she is (I hope) spayed so that we don't have to watch any more cases of Manx Syndrome. Being able to keep one of her daughters mattered a great deal to Irene's grandmother; I suspect it'll mean as much, or more, to Irene. But as I looked at those two beautiful three-colored cats and my mind vibrated back and forth between the thoughts of "my precious pets" and "my feeling so bad this morning" I have to admit I did not feel a lot of love for Violet.

(Violet is bigger than she was when this picture was taken, and, if anything, cuter, and never doubt, she knows she's cute. Her face and underside show distinct color patches; her back is a "heathered" or "tortoise-shell" mix of black and orange.)

For Heather, the one whose orange and black hairs are mixed together above, with almost all the cream-white spots down where they don't show, yes. Heather's dark face doesn't look especially "purry" in her all-time best photo...

...but she is one of the nicest, kindest, most helpful cats it's ever been my privilege to know.

I don't personally know any humans called Heather; if I'd remembered that that was the name a human friend had given a daughter of hers whom I've never properly met, I wouldn't have given a cat that name. This year, when the human Heather has spent more time with her mother, her mother and I have looked at each other strangely on more than one occasion, in a way I've tried to avoid when naming cats. I will say, though, that if a human has to have a cat namesake, the human Heather has been blessed with a great one. There are days when I wish I were as nice, for a human, as Heather is, for a cat. This is one of those days.

Heather has never been an especially cuddly cat. Even with her own kittens, she's apt to leave them with Irene (whose previous kittens all had Manx Syndrome and died young, but not for lack of motherly love) and go off hunting, or teach them to hunt, rather than spend a lot of time snuggling. All cats touch, kiss, and "eye kiss" their friends of all species (if they have friends), and Heather does those things frequently, but efficiently. In some ways, although she and Irene are absolutely heterosexual, Heather plays "Daddy" to Irene's "Mommy." She's the tougher, more adventurous, more woodswise cat...but by no means the less loving or generous one.

For instance, when I yelled at Irene and Violet this morning, "You disgusting dogs! You make me sick!" Heather came up and kissed my hand. 

I all but literally heard her saying, "I'm sorry you're not feeling well. They're not feeling well either. Let's all be patient and stay friends, shall we?"

She looked to me as if she were coming down with the same little strep-related "summer cold" that I have, and presumably Violet has, by now. For the adult cats and year-old kittens, as for healthy humans like me, it's not serious. Antibiotics will wipe it out if it does last longer than two days, which it probably won't; many of us won't even feel our immune systems fighting it off, which is what's dragging my energy level down now. It is, nevertheless, a bore.

(And what's left to sell if I have to pay for antibiotics? Don't let's think about it. Violet, the one remaining kitten of this spring's fourteen, is still awfully young...antibiotics are about as likely to kill as they are to cure kittens. I've missed Violet's slightly younger, healthier cousins and long-buried siblings, especially Heather's adorable little buff-gray-and-cream, "pale tortoise-shell" or "grayzel" colored Peri (with "blue"-gray brother Winkle), but now I'm glad Heather's kittens were adopted early. Maybe the infection won't reach them for another two or three months.)

In sickness as in health, however--through all her years in this world--Heather has been consistently a kind cat. She'll slap an unruly kitten if necessary, show a tooth or a claw as a friendly warning, and I wouldn't want to make her fighting mad, but she's never bitten or scratched anyone in anger. She's a peacemaker, as her great-aunt Mogwai, her great-grand-uncle Mac, and the long-gone cat Black Magic to whom they're probably some sort of distant kin, used to be. Even among humans you don't meet a peacemaker every day. Heather doesn't get a chance to be one (mostly between kittens) every day, but she has consistently been one when she's had the chance.

I'm not one; that's why I admire them....my late husband was a peacemaker. The boy I actually liked in high school (as completely distinct from the random boys to whom I felt random, short-lived physical attractions) was a peacemaker. Our late e-friend Ozarque was not only a peacemaker, but also a writer who was able to write in a detached, scientific way about being one--possibly a unique combination. I'm not sure I know of any other peacemakers; I know people in the litigation-mediation field who try to be peacemakers, but have not always succeeded, and I've known a couple of people who actually sowed discord among people in order to gain social-emotional "power" by playing peacemakers. (They were, I suspect, like the people Ozarque described as seeing life as like a game of chess--dangerous, in a way.) Jimmy Carter may have achieved the unique distinction of being a peacemaker who was designated and used as such by sowers of discord...hard to say, but that's the way he comes across to me.

Blessed are the peacemakers.