Thursday, January 21, 2010

Frozen Stiff

A small group of friends and I have decided to make every other Wednesday a "Creative Day" at my house.  We find that if we make it a regularly scheduled appointment, we have a better shot of actually making sure we include at least a minimum of creativity in our lives.  The others couldn't make it over yesterday, but I committed myself to Wednesday Creative Day, nonetheless.  Although my desk runneth o'er with bills and junk mail, and the dishes need to be loaded in the dishwasher, I put those lovely tasks aside and headed straight for the craft room.  I didn't even stop off at the PC to check my email, fully knowing that if I did, I would be distracted from my goal for hours (I'm an internet junkie!)  I did, however, manage to multi-task by doing a few loads of laundry throughout the day, changing loads when I stopped for bathroom or food breaks.

While I didn't create anything profound or amazing, I did CREATE, and that was my purpose.  I have a friend who starts out each new year with a word that kind of encompasses what she is attempting to achieve for the year.  Last year her word was "journey"--and I was thankful to be a part of hers.  This year she's working on "balance".  I've discovered that my life is much more balanced--I, as a person, am more balanced, when I make time to create.  I KNOW that about myself, but I so often let distractions keep me from doing that which makes me healthy and whole. 

I made a couple of cards for people who've been on my "To Do" list to thank or otherwise contact.  The one I spent the most time on was a sympathy card for my mom.  Recently her cat of 9 years died.  Anytime someone loses a pet, it's sad.  But, what's interesting about this pet's departure is how it affected my mom.  See, my mom has always been fairly "arms-length" with animals.  It's not that she doesn't like them, it's just that she sees them as outdoor-only creatures.  You can feed them, and play with them, but you do NOT let them inside to shed all over the furniture!  Her cat, Polo, was no different....initially. 

Polo was a stray.  I don't remember when or how he came to be mom's pet, but she ended up being the one who fed him.  Though she didn't acquiese to allowing him to live inside, he did manage to work himself into a comfy home in the garage--and even some inside time if Mom's mood was right.  In the end, it was the freezing Missouri cold that got him.  For some unknown reason, he didn't come home one night.  Mom said she opened the door and called for him every hour until about 11pm until she finally went to bed, unsettled.  The next morning she got up to go to work and when she stepped out the front door, there lay Polo all curled up at the foot of the steps, frozen stiff.

Mom said she cried and cried.  She felt horrible because she didn't hear him come home somewhere in what must have been the wee hours of the morning.  She thought that if she had, she could have got him into the garage and snuggled him up.  I told her it wasn't her fault, she did her best, but that doesn't really take the hurt away.  My parents are divorced, but Dad still lives not too far from Mom's house.  She called him up bawling, and told him what had happened.  He told her not to worry, he'd take care of it, as she couldn't bare to dispose of poor Polo's stiff body.  By the time she got home from work that evening, Polo was gone....forever.

Many of us have experienced the loss of a pet or a loved one.  The thing that's of significant interest to me is the way this loss affected my mom.  I've never known her to cry or mourn the loss of a pet before.  I don't know that she ever, in her whole 62 years of living, allowed herself to get as close to an animal as she did to Polo.  But, my mom and dad divorced about the same time Polo came into her life.  My mom's not one to wallow in self-pity.  She is very independent and doesn't "need" much as far as friends or social interaction.  She actually likes living alone.  But, whether she voices it or not, I know there have been many days where she has sat and cried when life's difficulties have at times been overwhelming.  I can imagine her letting Polo inside for a few stolen minutes to sit on her lap and comfort her.  He'd been with her through all the hard times she's faced this last decade--especially as she's grieved over divorcing my dad (because she still loves him deeply--she just can't stand him!) 

Although it's been hard thinking of the sadness Polo's death has caused, I'm happy for my mom.  It may seem strange to say such a thing, but I am.  Although it's "normal" to grieve over a lost pet, for my mom, it marks a whole new level of softness.  Because her life has been so hard (and believe me, it has), she's had to put on a "survivor" mask, which became so real to her that she learned how to keep all emotion carefully in check.  She had no time or energy for "frivolous" emotions like being sad over a dead cat.  But now, in the early golden years of her life, she's finally at a point where she has let down her guard enough to love an animal as a friend.  Polo has softened her, and I'm thankful for that.  She needs to be allowed to feel love, and loss, and not have to distance herself from feeling--from LIVING.

So, like I said, though I may not have created anything spectacular yesterday, spending a few hours creating this card for my mom (and a few others) allowed me the time to think about my mom and how much I love her.  Creating not only gives us freedom in expression, it also allows us a much-needed break from life's hectic pace, to ponder.  I think that often we become unabalanced because we don't take necessary breaks to sit back and let ouir minds wander.  But the times in which we do, are the times when we FEEL what's inside of us taking shape, waiting for the moment it can be artfully expressed.


  1. Your work is so beautiful and you can tell it is made from your heart! Thank you for sharing your MOM's story. It filled my heart this morning!
    Hugs and have an awesome day!

  2. Beautiful work as always, Cheryl! Miss you!

  3. My heart goes out to your mom, Cheryl. I know what it is like to have a pet "be there for you" during a major life change.
    I'm so happy you are back to blogging. I just love your writing.

  4. I'm so sorry to hear about her kitty, and the loss of a pet is always sad. You are such an insightful person and your Mom is so blessed to have you as a daughter.

    All of your cards are gorgeous and the last two are my favorites. Such a fan of all that you do.

    yapping cat

  5. Hi! Thanks for stopping by my was fun to visit here! Wow, your cards are amazing!

  6. As a grateful recipient of your gorgeous work, I always feel like I should send you a thank you card for sending me a thank you card. Your work is always so beautiful, and I've kept every single card I've ever received from you. They are posted in my craft room and provide inspiration and warm fuzzies for me. In fact, I lovedyour your latest creation so much that it prompted me to add some bakery twine to my supply stash ... more than 10,000 yards of it (3 different colors) ... yeah, got a little carried away on that one.

    Lastly, (I don't mean to write an epistle of a comment, but I can't help myself), your insights about your mom and the loss of her cat really hit home. Thanks for sharing.