I woke up with what seemed to be a million to-do’s bouncing in my head. But where to start? It’s in moments like these, that I often ask God for direction. I’m always in awe of His humor.
As I made my bed that morning, something caught the corner of my eye: a ladybug crawling across the blue sateen sheets. I laughed. The answer was clear.
I scooped the tiny creature (who had just caught the eye of my black cat), and placed her outside on a leaf, as I had done so many times in my life for uninvited crawling houseguests. Although, I must admit it’s tedious at times to dash down hallways or stairwells with fluttering insects hastily scooped up in Dixie cups or napkins, I just can’t bring myself to stomp, smash or squish.
Part of this is my nature, and the rest is my mother, Lynn. She started it. I remember as a child, a baby squirrel she had rescued after the mother was hit by a car. Lynn placed a ticking clock in its cage in the hopes of simulating the mother’s heartbeat. From there, memories of an endless array of lost dogs reunited with tearful owners, ailing baby birds and rescuing cats abandoned to freeze in the snow. To this day, Lynn still carries out ants, one by one (we both draw the line at mosquitoes). I know to some it may seem crazy, but in the bigger picture it’s respect for the dignity of life. As a teacher, I carried that same practice into my classrooms, in the hopes of inspiring students to do the same.
And thus, as I watched the rescued ladybug meander away, I knew she was a reminder of what was to be first on my to-do list: Cookie Birthday.
Being the most sensitive of the triplets, Cookie's heart goes out to all living creatures (if you look closely, you can see her bug catcher and little net). Cookie's motto, Be Kind, is the essence of her character. In a scene from the upcoming second book of the Birthday Triplets series, Cookie and her pup Chocolate Pudding retreat from a pony race to help a lost foal find her mother.
In her spare time, Chocolate Pudding pens a column in the newspaper for kids, The Birthday Triplets Times. The pup's posts are gentle reminders for children of how to treat their pets with kindness.
Cookie Birthday is big into animal rescue and adoption. The buttons on her suspenders read Adopt a Doggie & Adopt a Kitty. I think she learned that from us....
The Current Cast of Characters
My cat, Jetty: I found this itty bitty in a park as a sickly, seven week-old kitten. Now an adult, this savvy Siamese has jetted to NYC and D.C. Jetty's fond memories of NYC pigeons, stooped on her windowsill, still flutter into her dreams at night. Cleveland birds don't cut it.
My dog, Rosie: Rosie had 18 lives as she zig zagged across streets teeming with cars. I just happened to be at the right place at the right time for her to run into my life. I don't know who is luckier, as this dog has snuggled into the hearts of many close to me. The Birthday Triplets' magical Granny Rosie is named after her. However, my Rosie does not travel in a flying cloud.
Lynn's cats, Frankie and Mimi: This mother and daughter duo was part of two litters of kittens we rescued from an abusive situation last summer. At one point, Lynn had six kittens living in the garage and another four in her art studio. It took a small village to help with their flea baths, itchy ear mites, antibiotic eye drops, stool softeners, and mountains of laundry. To see all these kittens placed in happy homes made it all worth while.
All grown up.
Four of the twelve kittens on the way to the vet-summer 2017
As I sit typing the end of this blog, someone to my left is tapping his paw in annoyance. How could I forget Ollie? Known in certain D.C. social circles, this once scrawny & malnourished kitten has turned into a sleek panther-like cat with an odd affinity for bouncing eyeball toys.
I try not to think of how these animals could have had very different endings. My awe and deepest appreciation goes out to those who make this work their life passion.
It is our hopes that we too, can make a difference. It starts with the children.
"...To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded." Ralph Waldo Emerson.