How many years has it been?? How many more kittens will I give birth to?? I am so tired!! I feel so sick! Wish my beloved would come back for me..... At night, I hear her crying and I want to comfort her, but I can't. She asks the Big One if she can come and bring me home; the Big One always says "NO!"
The Kind Old Lady feeds me and ALL the cats here in this empty lot, but at night when I lie under these rocks, in the rain, the cold, the snow, with ice under my paws, I hear my beloved crying for me. I want to go to her, but I don't know where to find her!
My fur used to glisten. I was lovingly brushed every morning - like a mama's tongue licking me. My beloved told me how she took me home with her when I was very young. I remember seeing her when my eyes first opened - I thought she WAS my Mama! She fed me with a bottle, taught me how to potty, taught me everything I needed to know about being a CAT. I'm so proud of her! She fed me tasty food and played with me before she went out the door every day. When she came back she was so happy to see me -- I loved her so!
The Big One was usually kind to me. But she would NOT let me sleep with my beloved! She locked me in the small room with the big tub, where I would cry, and then fall asleep. Sometimes my beloved would sneak me into her bed - that was fun!!
Oh, I feel so VERY sick. The night is cold, I feel so alone!
I am getting up now, but I don't see anything. I feel myself walking, but I can't see anything.
Oh!! THERE IS MY BELOVED!! She's awake! BELOVED, CAN YOU SEE ME? I will jump on your bed, I will walk on your legs, I will stand on your chest, I will give you a love bite, just like I used to do!! There!! OH, MY BELOVED -- I HAVE FOUND YOU!! But now ...... I feel so strange!!
I woke up at 2 a.m. one cold October, four years after I had to leave my much-loved kitty PeeWee behind in the Bronx, when moving to Virginia. (How I cried - Mom refused to spay PeeWee, and the only home I could find was with a kind lady who fed her cats but let them wander! PeeWee!! I NEVER wanted to leave you, but I was only 15 years old, and Mom said I had to leave you behind!).
I suddenly felt something jumping on the bed, sitting on my chest, giving my hand a love bite (was this PeeWee?? Nothing was visible, yet I was wide-awake!), and then.... I felt the fear and terror of someone dying. PeeWee was dying and she came in spirit to say goodbye to me. Even now, almost 40 years later, I still cry when I think of PeeWee.
If I Could Only Turn Back
the Hands of Time.....
Copyright (c) 1998, 2004 Azar Attura
I found PeeWee with a large litter of kittens in a vacant lot in the Bronx, on May 31, 1960. I was 14 years old - she was less than 2 weeks old. Her eyes had not even opened yet. But when they did, they saw -- me!! I loved her so much! She was a grey, orange and white striped tabby with beautiful grey eyes; she was so tiny that I would walk through our tenement apartment holding her in the palm of my hand! I raised her with Pablum, milk and a doll's bottle (This was 1960 - what did I know), and we both thrived. I even burped her after every meal.
I taught PeeWee how to use a litterbox, eat from a dish, and how to wrassle with me; we were both wild kids. She was so smart!!! And we both loved each other dearly!
But I lived in an abusive household, and Mom had other ideas about cats, PeeWee could not sleep in my bed, and was locked in the bathroom at night, and when we were away. She would cry, and cry.
When PeeWee grew up, and went into heat, Mom refused to spay her. Poor PeeWee! When Mom said we had to move away to Virginia, I could not take PeeWee with me. Poor PeeWee! Poor me!! My Nonna (grandma) could not keep PeeWee, the shelter told me they would put her down if no one wanted her, and I could not find anyone who would take her. In desperation, I finally had to leave PeeWee with a kindly old lady (whose name I never knew, but to whom I am forever grateful) who lived close to where PeeWee was born, but who let all her cats roam in her Bronx back yard. Although she fed her cats and loved them, none of them were "fixed" and none of them got any other type of care. I cried for months after we moved away. Mom eventually told me to "cut it out!".
I wish I had never left the Bronx. The first individual who ever showed me unconditional love, my Pee Wee, slept outside in the cold, the rain, the snow and ice. Pee Wee had one litter of kittens after the other. My Nonna would visit the neighborhood every so often. She would bring PeeWee some tasty treats, and would keep me informed. PeeWee always recognized Nonna, even after 2, 3, or 4 years. How I wished I could have returned for my kitty!!! Nonna told me that the lady took pity on PeeWee when one of the alley cats started beating up on my now-5-year old kitty, and she let PeeWee sleep in her garage.
I was still living in Virginia, and I knew PeeWee was still in New York. Nonna was still stopping by to look in on PeeWee whenever she was in that neighborhood (thank you, Nonna!). One night, October 1965, I woke up at 2 a.m. and felt PeeWee jumping on my bed, walking on my legs, standing on my chest and giving me a love bite on my hand. I looked -- I saw nothing but me, under the bedcovers. Then I felt PeeWee's death -- even though we were 300 miles away, I felt her fear, terror and knowledge that she was dying. I was still wide awake, and knew that PeeWee had come to say goodbye. She never forgot me, as I had never forgotten her...........
I will never get over that. After many years had passed, I had a dream of her -- she was standing in our livingroom in my old Bronx apartment, next to our piano that she loved to jump on and "play". She stood on the rug and looked at me, and I said in awe: "Oh!! -- it's PeeWee!". The very next night, I dreamed that she was at the foot of my bed, in my present apartment, and when I went to pick her up, my hands went right through her. PeeWee gave me a shocked look, and I too, was very surprised. I woke up crying.
Sometimes I still feel her presence. As a very thoughtful friend of mine once said -- "PeeWee is playing with her babies on the Rainbow Bridge, and waiting for you!" -- those were very comforting words. Because when I think of her (and other cats like her) dying an un-mourned death, to be thrown out with the next morning's garbage, I realize that much of humanity still has a long way to go before the word Man"kind" can mean exactly that!!
Sometimes people ask me why I worry about the animals when people are being abused day in and day out. Of course I never forget the human side of this sadness. How can I -- I was part of it. Living in an abusive home was sometimes a terrifying experience to me as an innocent little child. It can strip the dignity from even the strongest-willed of us. I learned how to survive and I learned how to heal. Imagine, if you will, not only a little human being, but also a little innocent animal, who wants nothing but to give and receive love, who sees a towering enraged human being descending upon him or her -- this animal (or the little human child) has no idea at all why this is happening and usually suffers untold brutalities -- and is helpless to complain or cry out. This is why I care for and worry about the animals. Let's face it - Adam and Eve were NOT thrown out of the Garden of Eden for anything that the kittens or the puppies had done..... The ancient Latin word for "soul" is "Anima". Just add an "L" to that............They have every right to the same peaceful and safe existence as we do.
There's also a certain spot on Route 1 in Fairfax Virginia that I pass by every so often -- and it never fails to sadden my heart - for shortly after we moved here we took a drive down Route 1 and our car passed by a plump little white puppy wandering forlornly on the side of this road. Mom said "Look - someone abandoned that poor little puppy!" and I said to myself very sadly --"Mom, YOU should talk...!!!". Our car sped on....... I can only hope that another passing car DID take pity AND took action to save at least one life.......
I know PeeWee's in Heaven -- I truly believe that animals are themselves angels in disguise. And every cat that I have adopted from the shelter since I've had PeeWee, gets lots of love, a wonderful home, and is SPAYED or NEUTERED!
If I ever have the money, or if I can persuade someone who does-- I want to open at least one no-kill shelter for cats and dogs and name it -- "PeeWee's Place". It could never bring PeeWee back, but perhaps it will save some little girl or boy the anguish of having to leave their beloved pet to an uncertain fate or certain death.
PeeWee, if I could turn back the hands of time, I'd go back and I'd refuse to move out of the Bronx with my parents, and I would NEVER ever leave you!
PS - 1999-2001 In late December, 1999, while visiting my aunt, I persuaded her to drive me back to that vacant lot in the Bronx (which is in my old neighborhood), and she very kindly did so. On the way over, we stopped at a local Bodega under the Pelham Parkway el -- that neighborhood being the site of so many happy childhood memories -- and I bought a colorful bouquet of flowers. Our next stop was the vacant lot, which had not changed in almost 60+ years!! Here was where I last saw my beloved Pee Wee and where she spent the last 4 years of her life.........Everything - the rocks, the tenements, were still there as I remembered them. There was one thing missing however -- the house where the kindly old lady lived was gone. There WAS something that was STILL there after so many years -- more cats. A beautiful tortoiseshell cat stared at me from a safe distance, and movement in a depression near the rocks caught my eye -- "Psst Psst!" I said -- and an impudent little frowzy head popped up, dark eyes looking defiantly and playfully at me -- I had interrupted a little black kitten at play. Had there been no chain link fence (which had just recently been placed there) I would have gone in. However, I gathered the memories of so many years around me and I talked to my beloved PeeWee, asking her forgiveness, telling her how I suffered with her and for her, and how much I still missed her. Then, keeping one flower (which I now have next to her picture), I threw the bouquet over the fence, said a final goodbye and went back to the car.
In July 2001, I once again passed that vacant lot. Did something happen when I threw that bouquet over the fence? Because now, after SO MANY years (even in the 1940's, when my aunt was a young girl living in that neighborhod, that vacant lot and its precious kitties had been there!!) -- the lot had been excavated and housing was being built there!!!! Closure of some kind had happened.
May ALL the kitties who once lived and died on that vacant lot rest in peace. May that kind of bare and bitter existence one day be wiped from the fate of all living creatures.
Written to honor the memory of two innocent little grey tiger-striped kittens who drowned on the kitchen floor in one of the flood-ravaged houses during Katrina's horrendous onslaught, September 2005. I saw the photograph taken by one of the rescuers, and I will never forget that horrible sad sight.
May this avoidable horror that befell all those animals never happen again.