Tag Archives: Dotty

A Eulogy for Dotty

A few years ago I prayed a very specific prayer: “God, I know this is kinda weird but could you please make sure Dotty stays alive until I find my husband?”

Somehow I knew He heard me and would answer.

So when Dotty was put down last week, I cried lots of fat, salty tears but I was also reminded of God’s faithfulness and the intimate ways He cares for us.  Only He knew that 15-year old Katie was going to need that kitten for a long time.  Only God knew that “Dot,” named after my favorite Animaniac, would become Dotty- my faithful cat who lived to be 18 (96 in human years).

I can still picture myself in the locker room 18 years ago.  Sarah Rangle was telling me about the kittens her cat had just had and I couldn’t wait to go home and ask my parents if I could have one.  Never in my wildest dreams could I have envisioned myself 18 years later, finally saying goodbye to that kitten.

Dotty saw me through my teenage angst years.  I’d come home from school and collapse on my bedroom floor, exhausted from all the homework and the basketball practices and the drama that only teenage girls can truly understand.  Dotty would silently approach and lay on my back.  No questions asked.

When I switched high schools and my best friend moved away, Dotty was there to keep me company on lonely Friday nights.

She was there when I was wearing cropped sweaters and she lived long enough to watch our beloved puppy Swish grow old and eventually die.

Image-1Dotty forced me to keep “our” room clean and would pee on any pile of clothes left lying on the ground.  Who knew a cat could teach me to tidy up?  She once peed in my open gym bag and I had to practice wearing a jersey soaked in cat urine.

Dotty was a feisty cat for sure.  To be honest, not many people liked her when she was young.  She was fiercely loyal to me but didn’t let many others touch her.  If, on the off chance, she did let you pet her, she’d be purring one moment and in the next, she’d attack your hand.  Sometimes drawing blood.  Her mood swings were fast and dramatic.  She sometimes tore up my homework and she often terrified small children.

But when my grandma died and I didn’t want to talk about it with anyone, Dotty was the one who nuzzled close to me, purring hard, while I cried myself to sleep.

When I went off to college, I left Dotty with my parents.  I’d come home for Christmas and again collapse in my room.   In college, the homework was longer, the basketball practices were harder, and sleep was a precious commodity not easily found when there were adventures to be had.  So on that first night home, I would sleep for 14 hours straight.  My mom would check to make sure I was breathing and Dotty would remain curled up next to me until I awoke.

Dotty was there when I first started teaching.  I had moved home after college and was pulling 12 hour days at the school and discovering that being a first year teacher is even more exhausting than being a 15-year old girl.  I’d come home from work too tired to talk.  But Dotty never demanded conversation.

When I moved to Mozambique, I again left Dotty with my parents.  I came home over Christmas and again collapsed in bed with my faithful cat purring by my side.sleeping

When I moved back to America and found a new job and roommates, I decided to take Dotty with me.  My parents had acquired a new puppy who didn’t know his know own strength and was terrorizing my poor cat.  She meowed the whole way to our new place since she had never left my parent’s home and was terrified, but after a week, she loved her new set up.

For the first year, Dotty stayed upstairs.  She spent her entire day in my room or sun-bathing on the balcony.  This was the year I needed this cat the most.  I was experiencing reverse culture shock and felt wildly out of place everywhere I went.  I came home from the grocery store in tears because I was so overwhelmed by the excess.  I felt like no one understood me- understood how I’d changed in Africa and how my world had grown so much bigger.  But Dotty understood my sadness and continued to comfort me by simply sleeping by my side.  Or on my back.  Or my stomach.  Or my face.

After a year at our new place, Dotty started venturing downstairs.  My gracious roommates let this frisky cat roam our halls and when I’d leave on vacation, Dotty would sleep in Becky’s bed.  I forgot to warn her about Dotty’s need for a tidy room, but luckily Becky has a good sense of humor and laughed when my cat peed all over her stuff.  Dotty once brought a giant bird into the house and my other roommate, Rachel, put on gloves, caught the bird, and literally threw it out.  I’m so grateful for these girls who put up with me and my crazy cat.

I was in my late-20’s, living in a house with single girls and an old cat.  There were lots of “crazy cat lady” references made, but I didn’t care.  I loved that cat.  And I loved my life.  Even though there were many lonely nights.IMG_2578

I’ve known Dotty longer than I’ve known most of my friends, so they all know her well.  They’ve sat on my bed and found themselves covered in cat hair.  They’ve shared my bed and been pounced upon in the middle of the night.  Two of them have learned the hard way that your clothes will be drenched in piss if you don’t zip up your suitcase at night.  One of them even found a turd in her bag, courtesy of Dotty.  (Sorry about that, Lindsay!)

Dotty was there every time I hung a new bridesmaid dress in the closet.  Twelve in all.  She was waiting for me as I came home from bachelorette parties, from bridal showers and weddings and later from baby showers and little kid birthday parties.  She was by my side as I checked out profiles on e-harmony.  And she was there when I’d come home after yet another awful first date.

She laid beside me as I journaled and cried out to God, “When?! When will it be my turn?”  She accompanied me on the balcony as I studied the scriptures and found comfort in my Savior’s words and contentment with the life I’d been given.

When Rachel got married and Becky and I decided to move, this is when I pleaded with God to keep Dotty alive.  I was 30 and still had never had an official boyfriend.  I had a wonderful job, wonderful family, and wonderful friends, but I still spent every night alone in my room.  And I needed that cat.

After 5 years in the single girls house, Dotty and I moved back in with my parents.  The puppy that had terrorized her before had grown into a 90-pound beast with a gentle soul.  This massive chocolate lab, who was more afraid of Dotty than she was of him, now joined us on my bed at night.IMG_2568

These two became unlikely friends, forced to enjoy the other’s company when no one else was home.  I enrolled in night classes at Biola’s seminary so I only saw Dotty from 10 pm to 6 am during the week.  Again, I would come home exhausted and collapse in bed.  Again, Dotty would crawl on my back and we’d drift off to sleep.

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A year later, I met Paul.  This was the first boy I brought home to meet my parents.  And to meet Dotty.  I told him about her on our first date.  I needed him to know that I was 31, lived with my parents, and had a cat.  I was giving him an out if he wanted one.  But he didn’t.

Paul would lay on my bed and watch TV with me and I knew Dotty was miffed.  She wasn’t fond of sharing me, but eventually she got over it and let Paul pet her.

Dotty got real sick right before our wedding.  I took her to the vet and found out she was dying.

She wasn’t in pain though, so I took her home and when we got married, I decided to leave Dotty with my parents.  If she had come with us, she would have been alone all the time and very unhappy.  She and Nike, the giant lab, had become friends and in her old age, Dotty had become more fond of humans and wanted company.  The vet said this often happens.  When cats get really old, they often become kinder.

Paul called it the “9-life theory,” believing cats must sense when they’re on their 9th life, so they drop the snarky attitude.  Dotty still shied away from small children (she wasn’t stupid), but now she demanded attention from everyone.  When my grandparents from the Philippines stayed with my parents for a few months, they didn’t realize this cat would want to share their bed:

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When I came home to visit, I’d always run upstairs to find my cat in our old room.  My niece and nephews were fascinated with Dotty and in her last days she started letting them pet her.  She had grown sickly skinny, but she still chased birds, insisted I pet her while I was on the toilet, and refused to allow her stomach to be touched.  She kept some of her sass until her last breath.

My parents cared for her until the very end.  They didn’t sign up for this job 18 years ago, but I’m so grateful they let my cat live out 13 years and her final months with them.

This is the last picture I took with Dotty:Image-1-3

And this is the very first picture I posted on Instagram:

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I never did teach her to cross her eyes, but she was the inspiration for many blog posts (see the category entitled “Dotty”) and the subject of many other Instagram posts:

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I came in and out of Dotty’s life- jetting off to college and Africa and my new married life- but she never held that against me.  I mean sure, she’d sometimes poop on my bed when I had been gone a long time.  She knows how to use her feces to voice her displeasure.  But she always welcomed me home, no matter where I had been or how long I had been gone.

Dotty was there for more than half my life.  She saw me through the mountaintop moments and the lonely valleys from age 15 to 33.  She was a constant when everything else in the world was changing.

At age 15, I had no idea how much I would need this cat, how much she would comfort me in the next 18 years.  She was sassy, often puked on the carpet, and clawed me when giving a “massage.”  But she was faithful.  And she was mine.

Dotty was truly a gift from God.  Her long life was an unexpected and undeserved measure of His grace, for which I am forever grateful.

To the cat who has been peeing on my balcony, coming into my room when I’m not home, and eating my cat’s food

I hate you.

And, yes, that was me who rolled down her car window and hissed at you last week.

Sincerely,

the girl who now keeps rocks at her desk so she is prepared should you dare to show your ugly face on her balcony again

ps- I still can’t find the spot the where you peed in my room yesterday.

pps- THIS. MEANS. WAR.

Sunday Morning Confessions 19

I’m not Catholic but on Sundays, I make confessions.  Instead of telling them to a priest, I tell them to you, the internet world.  The best part about this is when you make them too, so don’t be bashful and add your own confession in the comments.

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1. I saw a kid puke in the grocery store and I had to stifle a laugh.  Like watching a car accident, I couldn’t look away as the two year old ralphed all over himself and the shopping cart.  I couldn’t help but cringe and giggle.  Moms everywhere are probably judging me right now for my lack of sympathy, but the toddler was calmly sitting in the cart and then suddenly blowing chunks everywhere.  This is the best part: his dad immediately ran to the kid and CAUGHT THE PUKE IN HIS HANDS. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Confessions 11- Africa BFF

I had a student last year who rarely did his homework but ALWAYS had an excuse.  It’s probably a good thing he didn’t realize I was being sarcastic when I’d listen to his sob story about his broken computer or printer or car and nod my head and say, “Wow, yeah, that sounds tragic.”  What I really wanted to say to him and plan on saying to all my kids on the first day of school is this:  “Look, sometimes your homework just doesn’t get done.  Sometimes technology sucks.  Sometimes you forget.  Sometimes you just don’t have time.  I get it.  But don’t feed me your excuses.  Just tell me you don’t have it.  Apologize.  Then turn it in the next day for half credit.  Kapeesh?”

So here’s the deal, blog readers.  I didn’t post these confessions on Monday like I said I would.  One friend thought I died.  I’m sorry.  I’m sorry I wasn’t true to my word and I’m sorry if you thought I died.  I didn’t.  Here is the post for half-credit.

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Life long friendships can be forged based on a mutual love for Jesus and junk food.  This much I’ve learned in my friendship with Lindsay.  I met Lindsay in 2007 when we taught together at the Christian Academy of Mozambique.  It was a tiny school so we had classrooms right next to each other though she taught second grade and I taught the 7th-12th graders, and we instantly became “Africa BFF’s.”  We ran together, ate raw cookie dough together, and visited the Iris orphanage together.

If you know both Lindsay and I, you know that Lindsay is a lot of things that I am not.  She is dainty and delicate, while I’ve been called “beastly” and nicknamed “hardcore.”  She is sophisticated and mature, while I talk about boogers probably more often than I should.  She has a southern drawl and shies away from danger, while I call people “dude” and am a bit of an adrenaline-junkie.

But we both love junk food and Jesus.  And that’s enough.  We may be two of the only girls our age who still drink non-diet soda and buy powdered donuts and white bread.   We both can go days, sometimes weeks, without consuming fruits or vegetables.  A “nice” dinner for us consists of a pizza eaten in my car in the McDonald’s parking lot.  So we’ve bonded over our eating habits but we’ve also bonded because we’re two of the only girls our age who aren’t married and making babies.  Nothing against married folk or making babies, but it’s nice to have a friend around who is in the same stage of life as me. Continue reading

Sunday Morning Confessions 2

1) I’m driving with an expired license.  I keep meaning to renew it but I think my subconscious keeps stopping me.  I have the same picture and information from when I was 16.  So (a) I love that my license still says I weigh 125 pounds.  (Although I do wonder if cops look at the weight and then at me and think, “125….riiii-ght.”) And (b) my picture is pretty ridiculous and I would be sad to change it to a normal one.  No, I’m not making an ugly face.  On purpose.  When I was 16, I went through a phrase where I wore A LOT of dark make-up.  My license is in essence a daily reminder to me: Katie, you’re not as cool as you think you are.  Remember age 16? Continue reading

Still Moments

The earth spins roughly 1,000 miles per hour. (Don’t think I knew that- I had to google it.) I knew it spun fast but not that fast. But some days, it does feel like the earth, like life is spinning at 1,000 miles an hour and I’m panting and exhausted by the end of the day because I’ve tried to keep up. But there are sweet moments in the day when it feels as if God has hit the pause button. I know the world continues to spin and life is rushing past, but for a moment, God puts His giant, cracked hand on my head and whispers, “wait.” And if I listen, if I stop in my tracks and just let myself BE in the moment, I am richly rewarded. I am rewarded with an outpouring of His peace. It feels as if I’m an empty cup and His sweet goodness is poured into me. But only when I stop and pause. In these quiet moments, a smile inevitably spreads across my face, a tear typically trickles, a grateful giggle escapes.
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I’ve started looking for these moments, expecting them, yearning for them. They don’t come every day but I have found ways to position myself so that they’ll happen. I’ve actually learned this from Dotty. Yes, Dotty my cat. She’s pretty holy. I mean, look:

But she’s taught me about these still, quiet moments because of her love for the sun. A cat’s life is pretty simple: sleep, eat, sleep, use the litter box, sleep some more, get pet, and sleep. On stressful “my world is spinning at 1,000 miles an hour” days, I sometimes come home and collapse on my bed where Dotty has been sleeping all day and ask her to trade places. I don’t mean it. Her life is void of all adventure. (Except for the time I left the door to the balcony open and a giant bird flew in and was was trapped until my roommate put on gloves and grabbed it and threw it outside)
.That’s why she’s lived this long and will probably live to be like that 39 year old cat in the UK. But I am jealous of the time she has to just sit. She follows a strict daily routine which mainly involves finding the spots in the house where the sunlight breaks through the window and she sits in it. Sometimes she sleeps but I typically catch her awake, simply sitting or lounging in the sun. She sits on my bed frame in the early morning, moves to the hall in the late morning, stretches out on the bathroom rug in the afternoon and lays on the balcony in the late afternoon. I often wonder what is going on inside that tiny pea-size brain of hers. Does she just love the feel of the sun on her body? What possesses her to so diligently follow the sun? She always looks so peaceful, so content, in the sun, almost pensive. See:
I wonder if these moments in the sun are similar to my quiet, still moments. I wonder if I need to be more diligent and disciplined like Dotty and place myself in situations where I will be more susceptible to the still moments. Perhaps God has offered me more of this treasured time, but I’ve ignored it by continuing on with my to-do list or checking facebook. Perhaps I need to search for these moments like Dotty searches for the sun: with expectancy and longing.
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Because the physical places aren’t hard to find. I know that if I’ll wake a bit earlier, hit snooze a few less times, I can bow on my knees beside my bed and enter a still moment. I know if I can pry my eyes open a few minutes earlier, I can sit on my bed and watch the sun rise and witness flocks of birds fluttering in formation and enter a still moment. I know if I get home from school and lay on the hammock and open His word and watch the clouds rather than checking my e-mail, I can enter a still moment.
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And then there are the surprise still moments that catch me unaware and bring overwhelming delight. Like the moments right before my team plays a tough game- both teams are warming up, the crowd is chattering, the music is bumping, but I sometimes find myself giggling in the middle of a still moment. It’s like He’s sending a reminder: “don’t forget why you’re here, Katie. Treasure me.” And I’m filled up. Or it’s right after a game when my team played the worst they ever have. Seriously bad. I almost cried during the game. We won but I was still discouraged by how poorly we played. But then when I walked to the locker room I couldn’t get the door open so I dropped my bags and stopped. The 605 freeway was busy. Cars were zooming by. Life was zooming by. But the moon was bright and when I stopped and looked up, I stumbled into another surprise still moment. And I smiled. My assistant coach found me that way- standing right outside the door grinning gleefully up at the moon. Because my God is so good and so sweet and was reminding me that He doesn’t really care how well my team shoots. Or it’s while my students are working on vocabulary assignments and I turn on my George Winston Pandora station and simply walk up and down the aisles. They may think I’m monitoring their work but really I’m just marveling at God’s goodness for bringing me here- to room A1, to these kids, to this still moment.
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I must learn the lesson from my cat of how to persistantly position myself for these moments but I also must “position” myself mentally. If I’m caught up in the whirlwind of my worries and stresses, I’ll miss out on these moments. If I’m distracted by trashy tv or real-life drama or gossip or to-do lists, I’ll miss out. It’s almost heart-breaking to consider the moments I’ve already passed up, walked by and denied because I was moving too fast, focused too hard on the wrong things.
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So I’m trying to be more like Dotty and pause more often, seek these moments, seek my God with greater tenacity, greater discipline, and greater expectancy.

Cat Confessions

Tonight was our first game of the season. We lost. But I when I think back to this game in ten years, I probably won’t remember whether or not we won. I think I will only remember the confession made in the locker room afterwards. One of my players announced to the team, “When I took that first shot, I pooped my pants a little.” I whipped my head around to look at her incredulously, assuming I had misheard or misunderstood her. But I hadn’t. She said when she landed, a little just shot out. After we picked up our jaws from the floor and recovered from our fits of hysterics, I told she should not tell people this. Ever.
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“Yeah, I probably should have just told you, Coach.”
“No. No, poopy pants. You shouldn’t even have told me. I will now tease you mercilessly about it. That confession should have gone with you to the grave.”
Then I felt guilty for all my diaper jokes and decided to relieve some of my guilt by making a few of my own confessions.
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Confession # 1 I am 28. I am single. And I have a cat. Go ahead. Start making the assumptions. My family was watching “Modern Family” and the nerdy younger sister asked, “If dumb boys like dumb girls, and smart boys like dumb girls, what do smart girls get?” Phil answered, “Cats mostly,” and my family turned to look and laugh at me. But I don’t care. Dotty is awesome and I might just write a post about how great she is. Matter of fact, as I type this, she is sitting on my stomach giving me a free massage. Sure, it’s a little painful since she’s digging her claws into my skin but it’s the thought that counts.
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Confession # 2 Not only do I have a cat, I talk to her. And she responds. Recently she found me downstairs and meowed in a tone that I knew she was trying to tell me there were ants in her food. Sure enough, I trotted upstairs to discover the ants and was amazed by our communication skills. I told this story to my brother, boasting of my cat-communicating abilities and he replied, “Katie, do NOT tell other people about this.”
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Confession # 3 Some of Dotty’s claws have started falling out and I’ve saved a few… and considered making a necklace out of them. It’s not a sincere consideration- I mean, I haven’t bought the materials for it. But I do have a few claws currently sitting on my nightstand. It reminds me of when I used to get my warts frozen off and I would save them to mail to friends. I don’t think I actually ever followed through though so I just had a desk drawer with envelopes containing my frozen warts.
Here is my first post about Dotty. I’m sure more will follow.

Dialogue with Dotty


Yes, Dotty my cat.

No, not the cat that peed in my face. That was her evil son.
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Dotty was the one who peed in my gym bag in high school. Of course I didn’t notice until practice when I had to put on a jersey soaked in cat urine and then pretended that I too had no idea what smelled so rancid in the gym.
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I got her when I was 15 and named her after Dot from the Animaniacs cartoon. Yes, I watched cartoons in high school. Still do. Phineas and Ferb is amazing.
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So why am I dialoguing with my cat? Truth be told, I do it all the time. You know, the basics- how was your day, Dotty? That sort of thing. Totally normal. And I found a highly entertaining blog this summer where the author has really funny conversations with himself. Not wanting to be a complete copycat, I decided to steal his idea and put my own spin on it.
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Dotty- There’s something in my litter box that needs to be taken care of.
Me- Yeah, I’ll clean it in a sec.
Dotty- Okay, but if you don’t do it soon, I might pee on your bed again.
Me- Geez Louise, cat, I’m trying to write a blog entry.
Dotty- Seriously? Again? Didn’t you try that two years ago and wrote 3 posts then quit?
Me- Yeah, but I want to try again. I’m feeling more motivated.
Dotty- Why weren’t you motivated last year? Nothing of interest to write about? I know you weren’t too busy because I watched The Bachelor with you every Monday. Still can’t believe he picked Vienna.
Me- Well random, awkward, and interesting things did happen but they just couldn’t compare to the adventures I had every week in Mozambique and I couldn’t stop making the comparisons. Then I read other blogs and got self-conscious because other people are much more witty and insightful than I and then I just started procrastinating…
Dotty- like you’ve been doing about getting me declawed? You’ve been talking about it for 2 years.
Me- Yeah, sorry about that. And then pretty soon, I forgot I even had a blog. This summer I read a really encouraging blog post by my friend Heather about how we should be declaring the Lord’s goodness and telling other’s about what He is doing in our lives. I heard a sermon recently where the pastor said our testimony should always just be a few days old because God will always be moving and working in our lives and teaching us new things if we are seeking Him. I realized that I really missed blogging about what God has been teaching me because it forces me to more thoughtful about what I’m learning and more conscious of how God is working.
Dotty- You lost me two sentences into that explanation. Are you going to clean my box or what?
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So I’m back. I plan on being more disciplined about writing. I figure that while I make my students write in class about the themes in Huckleberry Finn or comparing the Montagues to the Capulets, I can write about funny, random moments in my life.
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I may not be chased by three-legged dogs or homeless men trying to mug me. My life probably won’t be in danger (unless I get hit by a car again while biking to school). Trips to the grocery store won’t entail traveling through a national reserve park where lions and elephants roam freely and malicious monkeys try to steal your chocolate bars. My weekend trips won’t be to exotic places like Swaziland. And my church services won’t be as life-changing as they were in the village of Shiparango.
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But my God is the same and still works in marvelous ways. And awkward moments still are bound to happen since I seem to be a magnet for them. (more to come in next post)
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So I will attempt to stop the deadly act of comparison. Brennan Manning wrote a convicting quote that has helped me stop: “Any attempt to measure the value of our lives by comparison and contrast to others belittles our gifts and dishonors God by our ungratefulness.”
I will attempt to stop procrastinating.
And I will just write…