Friday, February 13, 2009


The Peace Keeper

In 1993, when unloading my very first load of hay here in Spring Valley, I discovered a little thrown away creature at the bottom of that load of hay.  It was a cat. Fighting her way out of the bales, this little cat was very pregnant, very skinny, and very determined. Her eyes were sealed shut with mucus and her nose bubbled as she exhaled. She tried to meow, but the voice was too weak to make any noise. Only her mouth moved.

Now I’m not a cat person. So, I wasn’t thrilled to find a needy cat at my feet. But there she was. Purring so loudly I could barely think. And rubbing against my ankles. Marking me as hers. And hers I was. Profoundly and completely, from that moment on, I was hers.

Babee IV came to live with me as a barn cat that summer. When it grew cool in the fall, I moved her in to the back porch. It wasn’t long until the cooler air became cold and she called to me. Then, of course, she moved in to the house with me. She had already established my left shoulder as her perch. We would walk down to the barn and she would hang on to me with that constant loud purring in my ear. The sound of her purring very quickly became like the music of a grand symphony to me.

Babee was a small little girl. Stunted from lack of care and having too many babies at her young age, she was barely the size of my work glove that first summer together. That changed, as she came in to the warm house and devoured the food I supplied. She grew to be a shiny plump little girl who hugged you – literally. She would place her front legs around your neck and hug you. Tucking her head under your chin. And purr. Always the purring.

When Earl the Deer lived with me for a few months, I worked hard to give him personal one-on-one attention and affection. He was such a lonely and frightened little guy. It was early in Earl’s time here when I came home from work one day at lunch to feed him and discovered that he was resting comfortably. Not chirping and squirming around and agitated like I typically found when I approached to feed him.  The reason for his contentment? None other than Babee.  This little girl had climbed in to the bathtub with him and snuggled right up next to him. Giving Earl the companionship that he so desperately needed and allowing herself to help another creature in her world. And purr. Yes, she purred extra loudly on her naps with Earl. Always the purring.

Kidd soon came to live with me as a little kitten. Tiny and full of energy. Tons of energy! When this little kitten would need to take a rest, he would crawl in to one of the flower pots and nap – all wrapped up in a little ball. And none other than Babee would be outside the flower pot to guard him. It was her self-ordained job to keep Moses and any of the others away from her sleeping little giant.

Once awake, Babee and Kidd would play by the hour! In the beginning, I would hear Kidd crying in protest as Babee wrestled him to the floor and pinned him there.  Many times I cautioned Babee that “someday he’s going to be bigger than you, Babee.” How true that was!

As he grew and Babee aged, the roles changed.  Kidd soon took care of Babee by throwing his big leg over her to keep her warm at night or by simply grooming her or allowing her to snuggle up close next to his large, heat generating tummy. Those two were a pair. The “mother and son” grew in to best play buddies and then soon became the ever doting son caring for the aging mother. Most recently, he spent time grooming her and relaxing her.  Grooming and relaxing her until she began to purr. Always the purring.

Keller was one of Babee’s latest charges. She took him on all by herself. When Keller arrived here in my house, cats were something to hunt and chase and grab by the back of the neck! Even in his blindness, Keller could sense those sneaky cats stealing by his kennel! And he never disappointed them in his attempt to just get at them just this once!

Babee watched from afar and as Keller became more fragile, she came to his rescue. She would approach him and smell him. He would smell her. And then she would begin to groom his face. This little cat who could be swallowed in one gulp by this big dog held no fear or concern of him. She just knew it was a fellow creature in need and so they spent hours together. Babee grooming him and Keller kissing her. And she would purr. She rattled so loudly with Keller that I could hear her in the other room as they spent their quality time together. Always the purring.

Guests to THE FARM all loved Babee. Everyone wanted to hold her so she could wrap her front legs around their necks and hug them. Babee greeted you at the door by trotting up to you with her little tail straight up in the air. “Hello!” she would say. “Welcome! Don’t you want to hug me?”

Babee moved to Oklahoma with me and met Andy. His very first impression of her was that she was an “extraordinarily beautiful cat.”  His comment was tendered with the clarification that “I’m not a cat lover, though, you know!” He held her once (that I saw) and lifted her up to look her in the eyes. Her markings on her face were perfectly symmetrical except for one grey spot on her left upper lip. “That’s her beauty mark,” Andy instructed me. And so it became. Her beauty mark.

Just this fall on a remarkably warm afternoon, Babee and I spent part of a day outside.  She was munching on some tasty grass and I was weeding and working very close to her. A car pulled in to the driveway and in the time it took me to respond, I lost eyesight of Babee.  I panicked! There were hawks and eagles around this neck of the woods! Babee!

I needn’t have worried. I soon found her right where I should have looked for her in the first place – out with the horses. She was just inside of the pasture totally enjoying herself with Babee Joy and Jeri-Ann.  They were most interested in this little furry ball that was in their space. And Babee was pleased with her new audience. She was rubbing against their noses, totally oblivious that one large inhale from either of them could suck her up one of their nostrils! No, Babee was safe and she knew it. She rubbed their faces and again, marked them as her own. All the while, purring so loudly she was drooling. Purring. Always the purring.

Now, I’m not a cat person. Have a ton of them that I care for but I’m not a cat person. Don’t like the litter boxes. And can’t seem to stay ahead of the cat hair in the house. But I never once complained about litter or hair for Babee.

This little creature was one remarkable peacekeeper. People who weren’t happy with themselves or their surroundings or me would always find acceptance and a smile while holding Babee. She often bridged the gap of that “uncomfortable air” by simply entering the room and bringing her total acceptance and love with her. And her purring. Always the purring.

My dearest friend, little Babee IV, has moved on to be with the others waiting for me on the other side of that big bridge. Oh, Babee, I love you so. And I miss you. I miss you horribly. I find it hard to walk around the house and not look for you. Make sure you are warm and safe. Bring you water and food. And hold you for the simple joy of hearing that purring of yours. And I am so terribly grateful that you chose me to find you. Oh, the joy you have brought me! The comfort you have given me when I needed to hug you and cry over the loss of another one. Oh, Babee, it is you that I cry for now.

But I’ll see you again. With all of the others. And you’ll come trotting up to me with your tail straight in the air, saying, “Mama! Welcome! Don’t you want to hug me?”

Babee was one of the most selfless creatures I have ever known. Even in her last moments, she cared for and comforted the creature around her that needed her.  This time it was me. Rubbing her face against mine to mark me as her own just one more time. Hugging me with her tiny little legs around my neck just once more. Her head tucked under my chin and the purring. Even during that final journey, she purred to me. Always the purring.

Listening for you, Babee....

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