I would like to tell you a story about a soul. A soul that was as clean, pure and gentle as soul can be. Rarely in live do we meet someone or some animal who never wanted anything but to give love. This story can’t be told without talking about her caretaker and my wife.
About 12 years ago an injured kitten was released to Everett Animal Shelter. The kitten had no use of it’s hind legs and was incontinent. In those day it was almost 100% chance that this kitten was going to be put down. Don’t feel sad/mad about this, nature’s way can be very cruel. The her fate sealed, this was much more humane ending.
My wife took it home to see if the kitten could be rehabilitated. We had been fostering kittens for a while and had a safe room for her. After getting her settled in we look at each other saying without words “Now what”?
Well the first thing that needed to be done was give her a name. We talked for a bit and I explained to my wife “She needs a strong name. She needs a strong black female name. She going need it to help her through life”. The strongest black female name I knew was Rosa Parks. That became her name.
Rosa being incontinent was, well to be honest, was a stinky kitten. Stinky kitten became one of her many nicknames, HA. Rosa needed to learn how to take a bath. If you ever tried to give a kitten/cat a bath you know it’s not really a good idea. So my wife dives right in, picks her up and takes her to bathroom for her first bath. Rosa being the soul she was just sat in the sink and took her bath. She didn’t fight it, she never hissed or got angry. She just took her bath. This attitude towards water lead us to try water therapy.
Water therapy was a home job for us. We would fill a storage tote with warm water and put this rear palatalized kitten in it up to her neck. Now for first time in a few weeks this kitten Rosa could stand up with the water supporting her weight. This went on for the first year of her life. This was the start of many treatments such as acupuncture, a sling in her room and massage. She did all of it never complained about anything.
It didn’t take to long and soon Rosa was strong enough to stand and wobble out a step or two. After a few months of no more improvement it became clear that a decision needed to be made about what to do with her. Is her quality of life such that gets returned for euthanasia or is she happy and do we commit to her care. We knew that she could never live the life of a normal cat. She would never be able to go outside unsupervised, she could never be inside unsupervised except in her safe room. She was healthy and always happy so the commitment was made.
Rosa had her safe room but what to do with her when we can supervise her. Rosa needed a wheelchair. After doing some research we found a local company that makes wheelchairs for pets. After getting her sized up the day came she had her chair. We put Rosa in her chair and in no time she was zooming around the room. Rosa is mobile!!!
My wife and I would take Rosa and Cocoa (look for the story ‘Cocoa’s Ghost’) for walks around the block. Animal Rescue Foundation who had paid for Cocoa issues and Rosa’s early expenses told the Everett Herald newspaper about this and Rosa went mainstream. Look up the news article ‘Pets get a second chance’ if your interested reading it. Needless to say walking a cat in a tiny wheelchair got attention.
One of the things that was very special about Rosa was she loved being a foster mom. My wife would often bring home sick kittens, tiny kittens and just overflow from the Everett Shelter and put them in Rosa’s safe room. Rosa always excepted those kittens as her own within a day or two. I often thought it would have been funny to learn about the birds and the bees from her perspective.
Me “Rosa, where do kittens come from”.
Rosa “Well first you eat some food, then you ****, then you go to sleep and BAM kittens”.
There were many, many times a sick kitten would just curl up in her belly and sleep with it’s now mother Rosa. She was so good with the kittens. She would cuddle, discipline, clean and try to feed when needed. The kittens in her care got a family with a loving mother and bothers and sisters, often unrelated. She truly seemed to enjoy motherhood.
This was Rosa’s and my wife’s life for 12 years. Feed Rosa, squeeze Rosa, clean Rosa and love Rosa. Last night that most of that ended. A few weeks ago Rosa stopped eating and drinking. After $1000 of tests, weeks of fluids, syringe feedings and with no answers we made the choice and gave the gift. Rosa died the same way she came into our lives, in my wife’s arms.
I wrote this not to make you sad. I wrote this to share a clean, pure and gentle soul with you. Some of you reading this may have one of her kittens living with you now: a small piece of her soul living with you now. Enjoy her gift to you.
This is not a poem. This is a story about a poetic life. Enjoy.