Out With the Old… (A OneWord post)

I’ve been doing this One Word thing for the past few years, in which you choose a word (or God chooses one for you) that becomes your focus in the coming year. It’s like New Year’s resolutions but not. In the past I’ve had words like Less (the year I purged a bunch of stuff from my house), Move (the year we moved to Virginia), and last year’s word was Focus.

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I try not to compare but I felt a little bad about Focus, when all around me people were choosing words like Thrive, Rejoice, Wonder, Worship, etc. Those words are so happy and fun and promising! Focus sounded so serious and pointed and kind of like hard work, especially to someone whose entire life seems to be be one giant tornado of chaos. But I knew I could use some improvement in that area and it felt right so I went with it.

Well.

I won’t lie to you and say that I made some huge changes in my life and now I have laser focus and will forevermore be able to keep my eyes on the prize at all times. Not so much. But I can say that I saw some improvement in my ability to focus. I learned to turn off the TV and get into a quiet place when I read my Bible and devotionals instead of trying to absorb God’s word through the noise. I found that I could read scripture two or three times, truly focusing on it, and commit it to memory, whereas my slapdash approach in the past had me reading and re-reading the same verses with little to no comprehension.

I tried to put Focus into practice in my relationships too. I made an effort to pay attention when my kids or my husband were talking to me, and I gave up trying to multitask. I attempted to look people in the eye when we were having a conversation and that’s not easy for an introvert. I try to put my phone at least face down when I’m at lunch with a friend or at the table with my family. Yes, it’s hard. The world tells me that I should have the phone surgically attached to my hand so that I’m never out of touch with the online world, but as a Believer I’m called to be different than the world anyway. This is just one more way to show love to others and be a nonconformist, right?

I also found tasks get done much more efficiently because I only have to do them ONCE if I focus and pay attention to what I’m doing. When I multitask, sometimes I make mistakes that cost me time in redoing things.

So Focus, I’ve enjoyed getting to know you better this year. I’d like to say I will miss you but I see that you’ve sent your cousin to hang out with me for the next year. Apparently I still need some work in this area. I’ll post an introduction of my new word in a couple of days.

What about you? Do you choose a word? What was your word last year and how did it work out for you?

You Can’t Go Home Again (or can you?)

Home. For some people it conjures up comfort and coziness. For others it may bring back memories of neglect or indifference, or even abuse. For most of us the idea of “home” falls somewhere in the middle.

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I went home for Thanksgiving this year, and yet I didn’t. The home I remember from my growing up years is not the home my mother lives in today, so going home for me does not mean things like sleeping in my childhood bedroom. In fact, my mother’s house is not suitable for all of my family to stay there so we stay in a nearby hotel.

The hotel thing isn’t bad, really. My kids enjoy the indoor pool and hot tub, and the whole “holiday family time” thing doesn’t lead to overkill and resentment.

I observed a few things during my trip home this year that I’d like to share with anyone interested in reading about them.

    1. Life Goes On. I moved away from my hometown back in 2006. A lot changes in nine years, and the changes in my town made me want to stop someone and inquire as to who gave permission to close that restaurant I always loved or reroute the street I used as a shortcut. It’s very hard to remember that life goes on when you leave a place. The entire population doesn’t all sit around in limbo until you come back again. Maybe it’s my selfish nature that causes me to imagine otherwise. For me personally, the town I grew up in just keeps getting bigger and bigger. I go back there looking for the scruffy little suburb I remember as a kid and I find something much more polished and, well, huge. There’s a Target store when my house used to stand. There’s a whole shopping/restaurant complex where there used to be a Kawasaki dealership. Housing developments dot the landscape where there used to be only farms. I follow the news outlets (thank you, Facebook!) to keep up with what’s going on in the town I left nearly a decade ago, but I never fail to be both astonished and dismayed at the changes I see when I go back. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong to feel that way, just that I do.
    2. People Move On. There’s a part of me that thinks I should be able to walk into the local WalMart in my hometown and see the cashier that used to ring up my purchases back in 2005. And while that might actually happen, I doubt it, and expecting such a thing is a little nuts. (For one thing, the WalMart is in a different location. See #1 above) Social media is a great tool for keeping up with people you knew in years past. Sometimes you can make plans with those you used to know and meet up face to face, and it’s fabulous. But keeping up on social media can be done on the go, so don’t get your feelings hurt if you try to set something up and it doesn’t work out. You may be on vacation but these people are living their day-to-day get-things-done lives.I’ve been able to meet up with high school classmates a few times, and I catch myself wondering if they can read all over my face the years since graduation. I also still find myself walking into a store or the mall in my hometown (there’s a mall!) wondering if I will see anyone I know. I probably will but I might not recognize them now, just as they may not recognize me. It’s kind of sad to walk around feeling like a stranger or a visitor in a town that used to be called “home” but that’s pretty much what I am when I’m there. What’s worse is when someone DOES recognize me and I don’t know who they are, so I have to play along while frantically searching my memory banks for clues. I ran into my high school French teacher in the grocery store a couple of years ago and she hadn’t changed a bit in 30 years. Apparently I must have held onto some semblance of my high school appearance that she knew who I was right away. Maybe it was the awkwardness that I seem to carry around like a shield.
    3. Memories Live On. There is a lot of satisfaction in driving my children around to the places I used to go. I have become one of those people who randomly burst out, “there’s where I used to catch the school bus!” on trips to my hometown. Maybe the satisfaction is just for me because my husband and kids don’t seem to get the same charge out of seeing the convenience store where I used to get lunch with my friends once we were finally allowed to leave school grounds, much less hearing what I always bought (a Pepsi and nacho cheese Combos). I must admit that I am less than riveted when my husband points out all his old haunts when we visit Wisconsin, so I guess fair is fair. Even more fun for them is when I point out where something

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      to be. For some reason they just can’t imagine it like I can. But the public pools where I used to spend hours and hours (too many of them, according to the spots on my skin) in the summers, the skating rink where I hung out (not skating much because it seems I was/am bad at it), the drive-in movie theater where I watched movies and later, well, “parked” (and that’s enough about

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    ) – those things are all still there and driving past them is enough to stir up sweet memories of my younger days. I’d be lying if I said it doesn’t matter that my childhood home is no longer standing because in truth I’d love to be able to walk through it again. But the memories remain, as do the photographs, and that will have to be enough.

I hear people say that they go back to their hometowns and it seems like time has stood still. The same people are still there, doing the same things over and over like no time has passed. I’m not sure if they see this as a good thing: stability and consistency – or a bad thing: old-fashioned and stuck in a rut.

As for me, I know that sometimes I feel sad that I left my hometown. There is something to be said for remaining in the familiar environment you’ve always known and staying where your story began. My family is still there, which I guess makes me the black sheep who moved away, or the rebel, whichever way you want to look at it. But if I’d stayed in the same town, how much would I have missed? All the years, experiences, and friends we’ve had since then, first in South Carolina, and now in Virginia, for starters. My life would be so much less rich without the joys and sorrows I’ve seen in the years after we left Tennessee.

And in the end, home is where you make it, and we have chosen to make our home, the home for our little family, in Virginia.

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There is no rule that says you can’t go back home again. You can go. You should go. But you should be aware that you may find that it doesn’t feel like the home you remember. It’s different. You’re different. And that’s as it should be.

 

Status Update

So I had a birthday last month. When I was a child I always wanted my birthday to be a big deal. I mean HUGE, as in a party complete with balloons, magicians, lots of cake and let’s not forget the presents. I wanted to be made to feel like a princess all day long, with all my underlings at my beck and call. Unfortunately for me, that was not my family’s way of doing things and I often ended my birthday slightly disappointed. I also had the idea that strangers should be able to look at me and see a birthday aura around me and KNOW that it was my special day, but alas, that never happened either.

Once I grew up (sort of) I set about making my own birthday a special occasion. I married a man who happily joined me in that effort and still to this day tries to surprise me on my big day. I am not easily surprised, however, since I am a skeptic by nature and I don’t miss much. But I love that he tries.

And now that I have reached (and crossed, kicking and screaming) the half-century mark I find that I really don’t want too much fuss. After all, I’ve done this 51 times now.

I thought about writing a birthday post about 51 things I’ve learned, or some strange facts about me, and it just didn’t feel right. So instead here are 5 + 1 things I love about being this age.

  1. I’m not afraid to be myself. I’m either too mature or too lazy to care what other people think and it’s so freeing. You like me or you don’t, but I find that I don’t try very hard to win the approval of others. I am who I am, as Popeye says, and since everyone else is taken, I’ll just stick with me. I’m not mean or rude about it (I hope!), but I like this person I’ve become. And if you don’t know who Popeye is I’m not sure we can be friends.
  2. I am no longer a slave to fashion trends. If I like it, it feels comfortable (that’s a big deal to me now) and it looks good on me, I tend to wear it. I don’t feel like I have to have a certain brand of clothing to be “cool”. Who cares if other people think I’m cool? I’ve lived long enough to see a number of things cycle in and out of the “cool” zone and I am not interested in running that race any more. What’s cool today will be uncool tomorrow anyway. Need I remind you guys about bell bottoms? Hammer pants? 80s hair? ‘Nough said.
  3. I get to tell my children stories about how things were when I was their ages. You know, back when the only phone we had was attached to the wall and had a cord on it. And you had to dial each number and wait for the dial to come back before you dialed the next one. There was no internet, and only three channels on the TV and you had to get up from the couch to change them. When I was in high school we got cable TV, and MTV played music videos. And we did this thing called “play” in a place called “outside”. Oh yeah. Good times. In the summers I went out to play after breakfast, came home long enough to eat lunch then went back out, and went home for the day when my mother stood on the porch and yelled for me to come home for dinner.
  4. Watching old movies or television shows is like visiting old friends. Hi there, Little House on the Prairie! Good to see you, Back to the Future! Welcome back, Brady Bunch! How’s it going, Barney Miller? And all that old technology (if you can call it that) you see in those shows? I remember most of it. It’s a big ol’ nostalgia fest! And then I bore my children with stories about the “old days”. See #3.
  5. I’m beginning to understand why my Grandma is the way she is. This may be because I find myself acting more and more like her every day. In fact, sometimes when I look in the mirror I catch myself wondering why my Grandma Wanda is in there looking back at me. It’s a little creepy, to be honest. And some of the things I hear myself say have come straight out of her mouth before. But I love my Grandma and overall I don’t mind being more like her. She’s a wise and very funny woman who lived through World War II and the Depression, and told me many, many stories about the “old days”. I could do much worse.

And here’s the +1: I can look back over my life and see how God has worked things for my good. Things that, at the time, felt like anything BUT good. A divorce, miscarriages, infertility, death, broken relationships, loss. Those things could have derailed me and made me bitter, but God chose to bring good out of the bad.

Time and age give me perspective and hindsight, and being able to see how God has worked in my life in the past gives me incredible hope for the future. I can trust Him, and it’s not just a feeling because I can point to the stones in the river of my life – those God-moments when He held me in the palm of His hand. God is not some amorphous or vague idea – He is real, He is present, and He is working for my good and your good even now.

I don’t know how many years I have left on this earth, but I can say with some confidence that I’m surely over “halfway to dead” (as my youngest daughter tells me). God Himself is the only one who knows. And while I wish my face looked younger, I wouldn’t trade all my life experience for wrinkle-free skin. I’ve earned these wrinkles, mostly from smiling and laughing.

God has been so very good to me.

Five Minute Friday: Doubt

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It starts as a whisper.

You don’t have it in you. If you ever did, it’s gone now.

That’s not so bad. I can ignore a whisper. I’ll just turn the music up and drown it out. I can do this. It’s who I am, and my calling.

But maybe it’s not. You’re just fooling yourself. You’re writing words that no one will ever read. Why bother?

The voice of doubt gets louder and louder until it’s impossible to ignore. If I’m not careful doubt will blow me right off the path and into an abyss from which I may never escape.

The fact is, I may actually be writing words that no one will ever read, but that’s not the main reason I write. I do it out of obedience to the One who gives me the words, and He doesn’t require me to wax poetic or spill out profundity with every blog post.

I have feelings, doubt included, but they don’t own me.

It’s been a while, but I’m back for Five Minute Friday, where we band together once a week and write on the same one-word prompt for five minutes – no editing and no polishing. Just raw words and community. Join us? http://www.katemotaung.com

These Are The Days…

There are days when the words inside my head and heart strain and push to get out, leaking through the cracks in dribs and drabs. There are days when my fingers can’t move fast enough to capture the thoughts and insights pouring out of my mind and heart. Then there are days when my brain feels as dry as a desert and there’s nothing to offer. And finally there are days like these.

Days when the weary monotony of the “have-to” list drown out the siren call of the “want-to” or even the “called-to” list. Days when the dishes won’t stay caught up and the cat throws up on the carpet and three girls want to do three different activities. All at once. With me. And somehow making the time to write finds a home on the bottom of the to-do list.

And then if I miraculously do find myself facing a blank page on the screen, my mind seems to be just as blank. Now what?

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Life is moving along at lightning speed and it doesn’t slow down for much. Except in the hard and bad times, when it seems to be moving at a snail’s pace.

And I look around me and everyone else seems to be doing stuff that really matters, and I’m not doing much of anything. At least that’s how it looks from here.

Oh, this is not a whiny post, or at least I don’t mean it to be that. It’s more of a stream of consciousness post. Bear with me. I’m going somewhere with this.

I want so much. I want to be an involved Mom. I want to be more intentional with this blog. I want to write more articles and short stories. I want to write a book (I can’t believe I just put that in writing!). I want to go to writers’ conferences. I want to take better care of my health and fitness. I want to spend more time in the Word. All those wants, and then there are the needs, like the need to find a part-time job when school starts back in order to get some bills paid off.

But what does God want of and for me?

Maybe it all comes back to this: Love God. Love others. Everything I do should flow out of my love for Him and my willingness to let Him love others through me.

So it’s summer here for a little less than six more weeks, when school starts back. I should just accept that it’s going to be a little hectic until then and write in the stolen moments like right now, when 2/3 of the children in my care are still sleeping. Should they be up? Probably. Am I going to wake them up? Not a chance!

Until my time is more free I will need to be content with loving God (reading His Word, spending time in prayer whenever possible, meditating on scripture, posting verses around the house to keep them in mind, worshiping through music) and loving others (my husband, my kids, my friends, my kids’ friends, my church family, my online friends, other parents at the cheer gym, the cashier at Kroger, etc.) and maybe putting the focus on others will take my attention off me and all those wants.

Because one day I’ll find myself with all kinds of free time. My kids will be grown and either moved out or off doing whatever grown kids do, and I will miss this needing. It’s hard to believe in the days when I can’t find a free moment to shower, but one day I will have the freedom to shower several times a day if I want to. No one will ask me to make their lunch or pop some popcorn, and I won’t need to break up some sibling argument.

And I have to admit that this oh-so-busy life is full, rich with moments that I wish I could properly capture and put on the page because they are truly God-given gifts. Rides in the van with one or the other of my daughters when we let down our guard and talk about things that matter, like faith, and boys, and adoption. Walks at the mall when she reaches out to take my hand even though she’s long past the age when she needs my help navigating a parking lot. Splashing together in the pool. Sitting with her on the couch snuggled up watching a movie. Spending kid-free time with my husband on a last minute 24-hour anniversary trip. Reading a book after they’re all in bed. Reading the Bible and a devotional over a cup of coffee before the kids wake up.

I see now that it’s a rich life I lead, y’all. The Lord is my shepherd and I lack nothing.

May I wander through these chaotic remaining days of summer vacation with eyes open for those rich moments and a heart grateful for the life I’ve been given.

19 Years Later

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Yep, you guessed it – I had an anniversary recently. I marked nineteen years of marriage to one of the most honest and upstanding men I have ever known, and I am honored to call him my husband. He loves me totally and accepts me as I am. He became an instant father to my then 8-year-old daughter when we married and he has never looked at her as anything but his very own daughter. It takes a very special person with an open heart to do that.

The photo above is a perfect representation of our wedding day. It was just plain fun for me and such a pleasant surprise to see how many people in our lives cared enough to show up on that blistering hot July day. I vividly remember when the doors opened for my stepfather to walk me down the aisle and I saw all the friends and family assembled there, for US. I felt so loved and I wanted to hug each and every one of them.

We left the church to go to the reception and made a stop in our wedding finery to see our friends Keith and Brennan, who owned a snowball stand. They took pictures of us holding our wedding cake snowballs before we dove back into the air-conditioned car to get to the reception.

Our small group friends helped serve at the reception and one of them arranged for a DJ. When Jon and I left the reception to go to our hotel and change clothes for a romantic dinner, we realized we’d left our luggage in a friend’s car, so we drove by the reception hall to retrieve it. We noticed several cars that we recognized so we went up to the hall to see who was still there. The hotel staff was cleaning the room but our small group was dancing in the corner where the DJ was set up. So we stayed and danced a little bit. Wouldn’t you? Like I said, it was lots of fun.

I’m not going to lie: marriage hasn’t always been easy. If you’re married you already know this yourself. We don’t always agree and there are plenty of times one of us has to apologize to the other. I’m sure there are things we’d change about each other if we could wave a magic wand, but while we’re not perfect, we are perfect for each other. He is the peanut butter to my jelly. Our strengths are not the same ones, but we work together well. It’s a good thing we’re not alike – I don’t think I’d want to be married to contrary ol’ me.

And we’ve had our share of sorrows. We struggled with infertility and loss, and we’ve buried many loved ones in nineteen years. But we’ve also had so much joy. We welcomed a daughter in 2001 through birth and another in 2005 through adoption. We married off our oldest daughter and became Papa and Nana to our sweet granddaughter in 2010. We’ve traveled (not nearly as much as we’d like) and we’ve snuggled at home on the couch with our girls and thought, “This is the life!”

We’ve seen God’s hand in our relationship from day one, when we met in the Burger King on the Cumberland Avenue strip. We’ve sought His will as we made decisions for the family and tried our best to follow Him. And we’ve enjoyed fellowship and friendship as we served and worshiped with other believers.

So in honor of our nineteen years of wedded (mostly) bliss, here are nineteen gems of wisdom based on all I’ve learned (so far) about marriage:

1. Don’t ever marry someone and expect to change them. Period. It’s not going to happen. If you don’t like who they are RIGHT NOW, don’t marry them. But…

2.  Expect them to change, and not always in ways you like or want. Something happens after the wedding, a kind of “letting down your hair”, that reveals things you may not have realized about your new spouse. Unless it’s dangerous or illegal, better to just roll with it.

3.  Marriage retreats and marriage enrichment classes are helpful but only if both of you are there for the right reasons.

4.  It takes two people to get married but only one of them to destroy the marriage. Don’t be that one.

5.  Speaking of which, marriage is WORK. Just like a garden, you can’t just leave it alone and expect it to thrive. Weed it, fertilize it, work on it.

6.  You will have ebbs and flows of affection. I’m sorry to all you newlyweds, but it’s true. Wait it out. It’ll come back, I promise. Look back at pictures of you when you were dating and remind yourself of why you fell in love in the first place.

7.  Contrary to what The Beatles might say, love is NOT all you need. You need commitment, trust, honesty, companionship, and a whole load of other things too. And work. See #5.

8.  Don’t make the mistake of expecting your spouse to be like your parent of the same gender. Your own parents are usually your first example of marriage and it’s easy to cast yourselves in their roles, except your spouse had other parents and he or she is busy casting you in his or her own parent’s role. It’s not fair. Plus you didn’t really want to be married to your own parent, did you? That’s just weird.

9. In fact, just check all your expectations at the door. Period. Don’t come into marriage with a bunch of preconceived notions because you’ll only find yourself disappointed to be married to an actual human, who has faults and might have their own notions. Unless you’ve discussed it and agreed ahead of time, it’s not fair to assume that the man always mows the grass and the woman always cooks dinner.

10. Premarital counseling is worth the time and money. I know, I know: you and your beloved have no points of disagreement and will ride happily off into the sunset with no help from any silly counselors. Just do it anyway. Trust me.

11.  Consider yourself married until death does you part. If you allow yourself to entertain the idea of ending your marriage, before you know it it becomes a possibility, and then an option. Don’t make it an option. (unless something dangerous is going on, of course)

12.  Apologize first. Yes, even if you didn’t start it and/or even if you’re not the one who is wrong. Apologize for your part in it. Just do it. Pride will get you nowhere.

13.  Remember you are a team. You need to work together and consider your spouse your partner, not your enemy. Sometimes being a team means compromise. Okay, LOTS of times that means compromise.

14.  Be willing to be broken in front of your partner. I am independent to a fault and it would be tempting to try to handle everything by myself, but then why be married? Let your partner see you at your weak points, and let them help you.

15.  Worship together. Read the Bible together. Do a couple’s devotional. Somebody once told me that a marriage is like a triangle, with God at the top, you at one bottom corner and your spouse at the other. The closer each of you gets to God, the closer you get to each other. Cheesy? Maybe, but also true.

16.  Try things your spouse likes to do, even if it’s not your cup of tea. I once took Jon white-water rafting. That’s totally outside his comfort zone but he was a great sport, and he actually enjoyed it enough to do it again a few years later. Or maybe it was just that his memories had faded.  Likewise, I’ve been camping even though for me it’s just like being at home except outside. Without A/C. Or my bed. Or a proper refrigerator and stove. And lots of bugs and other critters.

17.  God, spouse, children, everyone else. That’s the order. It’s tempting to make your kids the focus of your marriage but don’t. One day they will (hopefully) leave home and your spouse will still be there. What will you have to talk about when the kids are gone?

18.  You are your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. Don’t get into the habit of sharing his or her faults and foibles with your friends. Telling funny or embarrassing stories about your spouse is easy and everybody seems to be doing it. Praising them to others takes more thought. Ask yourself if your words are building up your spouse or tearing them down. Don’t let the things you say about your spouse leave others wondering why on earth you married that person, if that’s how you really see them. Better yet, let your spouse hear you say nice things about them.

 19.  You need friends. Yes, your spouse is your lifelong companion and the one person you know you can rely on, but you need other friends too. Your husband shouldn’t have to hear every single detail about the last book you read and what the humidity does to your hair. He’s not going to be interested in hearing about how it felt when you had an ovarian cyst. (sorry, guys) Your wife probably doesn’t care about the post-game analysis of your favorite basketball team’s lastest game. (because I don’t care for basketball. Football is a different story, but I digress.) You need friends of your own gender who share your interests because they make your life richer. You also need couple friends (for double dates), and you need friends with kids the same ages as yours (so the kids can play while the adults talk). What you do not need is close friends of the opposite gender because that kind of emotional investment can lead places you really don’t want to go.

And here’s a bonus, because I couldn’t edit my list down to just 19:

20.  If you ever feel like something is wrong in your marriage, look in the mirror first. Don’t automatically assume it’s the other person’s fault. Examine your own heart. Pray. See a counselor. Yes, maybe it really is your spouse’s fault, but you can’t do a single thing about how someone else behaves. All you can control is your own behavior.

It’s your turn. How long have you been married and what are some things you’ve learned?

In Memoriam

Once upon a time there was a small gray striped kitten with random orange patches. She was surrendered to the local Humane Society as a tiny baby and found herself one day in a cage outside a pet store with three of her furry siblings. A little girl with blond hair came along and stuck her fingers into the cage to get the kittens’ attention. The girl turned to her father and begged to be allowed to take a kitten home, and her Daddy said yes. The blond girl chose the striped kitten, who was so small she could fit into the palm of the Daddy’s hand! She rode to her new home in a box perched on the little girl’s lap.

At home, the parents told the little girl that she should give the kitten a name, so she did: Sally Hannah Juliana. The girl liked the way the last two names rhymed, and besides, Juliana was her own middle name. Over the years Sally Hannah grew and grew. She never tired of chasing laser pointers and she had a stuffed mousie that squeaked and she loved to carry the mousie around in her mouth. Sometimes she liked to run outside when the door was opened so she could roll around in the grass. She was always willing to bat around a little ball with a bell inside.

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During the day she followed the sun around as it shone through the windows so she could lay in its warmth. At night she would curl up on the bed with one of her people and keep their feet warm as they slept. It wasn’t always the same bed or the same person because she liked to keep things fair.

As Sally Hannah got older she got bigger and bigger. Her people said she weighed twenty pounds! Sally Hannah didn’t know what a pound was but if it was anything like food, she wanted as many as she could get. Sometimes she would lay on her back in the floor with all four paws in the air. For some reason this made her people giggle and take pictures. She didn’t care because it made them happy and it felt good. She also liked to look out the window and watch the birds and squirrels, who seemed to be teasing her. That was okay, though, because she had a comfortable house and nice people who took good care of her.

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Then one day Sally Hannah Juliana started feeling sick. Something inside her body didn’t feel right. All she wanted to do was sleep, and it seemed like too much trouble to walk to her food dish to eat, so she didn’t bother. Her people were worried so they took her to a doctor and the doctor put her in the hospital for a couple of nights. Once when she woke up in the hospital she had a tube sticking out of her neck and it felt weird. The people at the hospital kept doing things to her and wouldn’t leave her alone to sleep, which was what she wanted to do. Finally one of her people came to take her home and Sally Hannah was hopeful that maybe everything was going to be okay.

But it wasn’t. She came home with the tube-thing in her neck and it made her drool all the time, which was messy and caused her to lick her lips a lot. She still didn’t want to eat and she wanted to rest but it was hard to find a good position with the tube there. And now instead of doctors it was her people who kept coming in and doing things to her with that uncomfortable tube, and while she loved the people, she wished they would just go away and let her sleep.

Then one morning Sally Hannah’s people came to feed her and they could see that she was feeling worse than ever. They were worried and sad. All of them petted her gently and told her how much they loved her and what a good kitty she was, with tears in their eyes. Even through her pain she could tell they really cared. And then they showed her how much they loved her because they finally, finally, let her go to sleep, which was what she had been wanting all along.

Yesterday we had to say goodbye to our Sally Hannah Juliana. She was a part of our family for nine years and was full of personality. She was never any trouble, unless you count sharpening her claws on the sofa and harking up the occasional hairball. All she desired in life was a full food dish and a soft place to sleep. She was a good kitty right up until the end, even though I know we must have made things more difficult for her by trying so hard to hang on when she was ready to go. RIP, Sally Hannah Juliana. We will miss you.