Saturday, November 12, 2005

sweetness

Thanksgiving weekend five years ago I got a call from the SPCA to please take in a mama cat and her kittens as fosters. That was my Zap Mama, already showing us how she liked to be "different" – skipping the usual kitten season and instead getting knocked up over the fall and giving birth in the coldest time of the year.

We tried not to name the kittens, so as not to get too attached. A laughable concept. We identified them by their physical appearances – Grey Baby, Stripey, and Tuxedo Baby. Essentially, we named them. By the time they were two weeks old, Zap couldn’t lift them anymore, being – at the time – so tiny herself. So she sat back, playing nagging mother, while her children ran wild through our bedroom. Stripey was the only female and smart, smart, smart. She was the first to learn to do everything, taunting her brothers from her perch atop the bookcase, or racing through the blinds slalom-style. Cute as could be, but not the brightest bulbs, Grey and Tuxedo spent their time eating each other’s ears and falling off the bed. Stripey won her fans over with her cunning and then added a dash of darling. She climbed anyone and anything until, exhausted, she curled into the crook of my arm and slept. She’d need a special place to grow up.

The kittens were ready to be adopted in January. There were no other kittens to be had at that time of year. Everyone wanted these little fur balls. Being the spaz that I am, I couldn’t just return them to the SPCA to be adopted by whomever happened in. No, I advertised my little ones and carefully interviewed perspective families. Tuxedo Baby was adopted by a young couple who gushed over him in Polish. Grey Baby went to a socially awkward computer geek who shared his kitten’s startled look and seemed to be in need of the company. A perfect fit. And Stripey. She was the pick of a family with two teenagers and an incumbent housecat. I weighed the situation. Were they the right ones for our girl? After spending a long time with the kittens (with Zap cowering under the bed waiting for the intruders to leave), the mom announced it was time to go. The son, about 17 I’d guess, was holding Stripey in his palm. On hearing his mother’s command, the boy kissed the top of the kitten’s head and placed her gently down. "Did you see that?" I whispered to Mike as we ushered them out. "Yeah, I saw it." "I think they should get Stripey," I told him. "Yeah, I think they’re okay."

There is an automaticity in affection that you can’t fake. There is a sincerity in certain gestures that are tell tale. One of the most loving things I have experienced since having a baby is the genuine affection he is sometimes shown by people unrelated to us. I don’t mean the passers-by who tell me they like his hat. I mean the parent, his own child inches from him, who reaches out and touches Isaac’s head, sweetly, contemplatively, for no good reason.

Right now, my bathroom smells like jasmine from the back fence. My kitchen smells like guava from the farmer’s market. But the clearest sign of sweetness in my life is the memory of that hand, smoothing my baby’s hair.

1 comment:

judy said...

Yep.

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