In a past life, I lived in a trailer in the middle of a dusty field next door to my in-laws. The fields were owned by the local farming family – seven brothers and one brother's wife. These farmers were the salt of the earth, always lending a helping hand, kind to people and kinder to their animals.
I’d go over on the weekend afternoons and go for a ride on their tractor, sometimes look for black bear, or pet the goats, watch a horse give birth, walk with nature. I’d do some computer work for them, drink coffee with the wife. They are one of the things that I miss from my past life.
Their half-lynx barn cat gave birth to four kittens – two gray and two white. I wanted one of those kittens so very badly. I’d go over and watch them, play with them, wait for their eyes to open.
One afternoon, one of the brothers came over to return a stockpot he had borrowed from me. He handed the pot to me and said, “There’s a free prize with every pot.” I lifted the lid and there was one of the white kittens, stumbling around in the pot! She looked up at me and mewed. I was in love.
My in-laws had five dogs at the time. I’ve always been a dog person, but I wanted this kitten. My mother-in-law was quite skeptical about the cat, especially with all the dogs. “I hope she lives!” she cackled. And I looked at that little kitten with the shivering tail and pitiful mew and I said, “That is what I’m naming her.” “Hope.” “Because she will live and she gives me hope.”
I spent a lot of time alone in that dusty trailer. I wanted company. I wanted someone I could talk to, someone that would understand. Hope became my best friend. We understood each other. She took right to being an inside cat, she never wanted to go out. She didn’t care for my then-husband or his mother.
When I left my husband, I left everything but two garbage bags full of treasures and Hope. She spent a week with my grandparents while I found a place where we both could live. Through all of the hopes and fears that I had during that time, Hope was with me. Her fur caught my tears and her presence kept me going.
She’s eleven years old now and a fussy old girl. She doesn’t like company and she hates my best friend and my family. She loves her J and her heater in the winter. She sleeps twenty-two hours a day and talks for the other two. Listen and she’ll tell you just what she thinks.
I owe her a safe comfortable place to rest because at my darkest time she loved me when I didn’t think anyone else did.
And she gave me hope.