This week, I decided to post on Sunday to celebrate Mother’s Day. My perspective on this day has changed over time. Since I never had any human children, for much of my life the focus of my celebration of this holiday was my own mother. She died the weekend of my fiftieth birthday.
The following Mother’s Day was a sad one for me. It brought home the realization that I no longer had a mother in my life. It affected me almost as much as her actual death had eight months earlier. We have just one mother, and when she is gone there will not be another. My father had predeceased her by twelve years, so I felt somewhat like an orphan.
For most of the years between her death and this year, I had feline children. The celebration of Mother’s Day in our household shifted to me as the mom to our cats. I received cards (with little paw prints) and flowers. It helped ease the sense of loss from not having a mother of my own anymore.
A year ago January, we said goodbye to our fifth and possibly final cat, Luke. I decided to spend at least a year catless, mourning him as he deserved. I wasn’t sure I would want to start a new family at this point in my life. When May came, there was no reason at all to celebrate Mother’s Day. The void in my life was as painful as that first year after my own mother died.
I had never given much thought to being a mother to my cats. I loved and cared for them deeply. I fed them, changed their water and their litter boxes. In their later years, I often dispensed medications or other treatments. Despite the cards and the flowers, I had never framed that attention in my mind as “mothering.” It wasn’t until Luke was gone that I realized that the mother role can have many definitions. I spent over a year not being a mother to anyone, and still, as always now, being motherless.
As January slid into February this year, I began to think about making a home for some rescued cats. Ones whose aging owners had either died or had been forced to give them up. I knew I wouldn’t want to start over with kittens; I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving them without a home if they outlived me. I opted for senior felines who might have had a difficult time being placed.
We adopted ten-year-old Kallie in March. She’s a calico and tortoise combination, quiet and gentle. In fairly short time, she began sleeping with me, much as Luke had done once Pansy was no longer with us.
In April we added seven-year-old Stella. She’s what is called a torbie—a tiger and calico combination. She’s a talker and she’s as energetic as Kallie is calm. I’ve given them floral middle names, an echo of my other girls. They're learning to tolerate one another and I’m confidant they’ll soon become friends.
They have once again allowed me to claim the mantle of motherhood. Jagdish asked what I wanted for Mother’s Day. I said just a card from them, and maybe a small bouquet of flowers from the supermarket. Yesterday, Fedex delivered two dozen red roses—a dozen from each of my new girls. Their greeting card (with cats on the front of course) thanked me for adopting them and giving them a good home.
As Mother’s Day 2016 comes to a close, I look back on my changing perspectives of what that day has meant to me over the years. Once again, I can look with a smile to what the years ahead will bring.
Kallie Jasmine and Stella Periwinkle, thanks for making me a mother again!