Whisper 2.31

Dear me,

The garden was such a mess! Wilting vines, overgrown garden beds! I don’t think anyone had stepped foot in it all summer!

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But a little water, a little weeding, a little pruning and harvesting seemed to do the trick!

While I was tending the garden, I kept remembering a wish that Patches had way back from before I left for college.

I decided it was time we do something about it.

When I came inside from the garden, I found Patches in the kitchen.

“How about if I call the shelter,” I asked her, “and see if they have any cats to adopt?”

She clapped her hands and squealed with glee.

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I could hear shouts of joy all over!

Even the gnomes were happy!

“Whiskers!” They shouted from the garden.

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“Little padded paws!” They laughed from the front steps.

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Two of the gnomes plopped down right on the front porch so they’d be the first to greet our newest family member, Hatbox Tea.

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Hatbox–that’s the name she came with–is a lovely little calico Manx with green eyes and a mischievous personality. Needless to say, she fits right in.

I’ve never seen Patches more happy! She smiled brighter than ever and she wouldn’t stop clapping and cheering!

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Hatbox’s ears twitched as she walked into the house. I think she didn’t expect such a loud welcome.

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Patches, who seems to speak Cat, realized she was being a bit loud. She toned it down and sat on the love seat to watch Hatbox become acquainted with her new home and new siblings.

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Zoey wasn’t sure what to make of her at first. Why is she hissing? Will she scratch?

“Now, kitty, it’s your new home,” Patches said in her softest voice. “Relax. Take it easy.”

“Mew?” said Hatbox, and next thing we knew Hatbox and Zoey were playing like they’d been litter mates!

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We laughed to see how cute they were together, and when I saw how happy Zoey was, I felt my chest relax. I guess I’d been holding my breath to see if they’d get along. I knew a cat would be right for Patches, but I wondered how Zoey would take it, since he was used to be doted on as the littlest family member.

But he’s happier than ever to have a four-legged friend. Watching them together, I feel that there’s something about having somebody around who’s a little more like you that can give a happy feeling of belonging. Riley has Patches. I’ve got Bo. And now Zoey has Hatbox.

Sometimes, it takes being part of a pair to help you find where you fit in a big rambling family.

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#BetterWithTwo,

Me

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Whisper 2.02

Dear Mom,

Riley had another melt-down. She said it’s ’cause you won’t see her graduate.

We got a call from the school, saying that she was going to be allowed to walk in the ceremony, and she’ll even receive a diploma, with full credit. I don’t really understand this, but I didn’t argue.

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The graduation ceremony was in the afternoon. While I talked with Riley, trying to get her to calm down, Patches and Bo played.

Patches told me she’s practicing with Lamber, so that when she finally holds Roxey, she’ll know how and won’t get scratched.

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Heading to the graduation ceremony felt bittersweet. Mom, I agree with Riley–we both wish you could see her receive her diploma.

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“Will you be here when I graduate?” Patches asked me.

“Of course, Patches,” I said. “I’m not going anywhere.”

“What about college?” she asked.

“Oh, we’ll talk about that later.”

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Riley, sitting in the cab waiting for us, looked so sad.  When I slid into the seat next to her, I whispered that this was supposed to be a happy occasion.

“I’m just praying to get through it,” she replied.

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She did get through it. When we looked at her diploma, we saw that she’s graduating with honors. Mom, she’s so smart! Her classmates voted her, “Most likely to stay home.” She laughed. “This is so me!” she said. “That’s all I ever want to do!”

When we got home, we discovered Zoey and Roxey playing in the living room.

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We all stood and watched them. Patches started laughing first. Then Bo joined in. And soon, their crazy games had us all giggling. Oh, Mom! It felt so great to laugh as a family.

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“When are you leaving?” Riley asked me as we had a snack.

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“I’m not going anywhere!” I replied.

“Um, college?” Riley said.

“Um college what?” I replied. “I’m not going.”

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“You’ve got to go,” she said. “All your life, that’s what you’ve been dreaming of, planning for. You can’t skip college! Mom wouldn’t want that.”

“Look,” I said. “I might very well go to college one day, but I’m not going now. Not when we’re all going through this. Not when Bo and Patches are still kids.”

“But I’d stay to take care of them,” Riley said.

“Nonsense,” I replied. “When I go to college, you’re coming with me. We’ll just have to wait. It’s that simple.”

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“You’ve got to think of what Mom would want,” Riley continued. “I know she’d want you to go. You know how she always arranged with Mara Nix to be ready to help out? She’d want you to go, with me staying here to look out for the kids, and Mara Nix coming around when we need extra help.”

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“It’s not going to happen that way,” I said. “I’m going to get a job so we know the family is taken care of. Then maybe later, after Bo and Patches become teens, or after they graduate, even, then I can think about going to college. Heck, maybe we’ll all go to college together! And you’re definitely coming with me!”

“Mom would hate for you to put aside your dreams,” Riley said.

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I know Riley has a point, Mom. You always did want me to go to college straight out of high school. But I know you understand that dreams are flexible. Sometimes, other things come up that are more important–like being here for Bo and Patches while they’re littlies that need extra care, and keeping the family together while we move through these seasons of grief.

Mom, I know you’re not disappointed in me. Or even if you are, you’ll get through it once you realize I’m doing what I feel is right, just like I always do. And if what I feel is right doesn’t quite match what you feel is right, that’s OK. I know you trust me.

I won’t give up on college for good, Mom, just for now. For now, I’ve got more important things to do as a means of being the daughter and the big sister that you’d want me to be.

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Growing up is hard, Mom, but I’m ready. I’m ready to make the tough decisions. And this decision isn’t even a tough one. Family comes first, Mom. That’s a no-brainer.

Love forever,

Marigold

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Whisper 1.29

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We’re looking for Stray Dog.

Everywhere I go, I keep an eye out for him.

Every day after school, Marigold heads up to her fort and uses her telescope to look over the fields.

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She sleeps in the tree fort, then bright and early, she’s looking again.

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We haven’t seen him yet.

“Do you think he’s OK?” she asks.

“Oh, yeah,” I say. “Me and Stray bonded pretty closely, so I can still feel him. I would feel it if something were wrong.”

“Then where is he?”

“You know what I think it is? I think he’s a free-loving roaming wanderer. Some individuals are just like that. I bet he loves living wherever he chooses, sleeping under the stars, doing what he wants.”

“Kinda like me,” Marigold says.

“Yup,” I reply. “Kinda like you, Bunny.”

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A few days later, Marigold goes to a friend’s house after school.

When she comes home, she’s so excited.

“Mom!” she says. “Guess what? They have an actual table for doing homework! They call it the dining room table. It’s so awesome.”

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“Oh, yeah,” I reply. “I guess that’s pretty standard, to have a dining room table.”

“And you know what else?” She asks, enthusiastically. “They’ve got this room they call the living room and it’s really pretty with matching lamps and even matching chairs and a rug and a TV, and we could sit there together, watching sports and talking! It was so cozy.”

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“It sounds like a nice house,” I say.

“It is,” she replies. “It’s really pretty.”

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I start thinking about how much money we have in savings. We’ve got a bit of a cushion. I’ve been saving it up for Marigold’s college and so that, in case anything happens to me, she’ll have something to fall back on. I’ve talked to Mara Nix, and she’s agreed that, if I go before Marigold is old enough to live on her own, she’ll come and take care of her, so the savings is for that. It’s hard to think about, but I figure I’d better face it and be prepared. Maybe that way, it won’t happen.

Anyway, all this calculating of our savings is so that I can decide if we have enough to buy a real couch and a dining room table. Marigold seemed so excited about her friend’s house, and I want her to feel like she has everything she needs at home, too. Not everybody feels that cheap college-student decor is comfortable, I remember.

The next morning, Marigold asks the mailman if he’s seen Stray Dog.

“No,” he replies. “My route’s just here in the north bend. But I walk all over, and I haven’t seen him.”

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Marigold looks sad when she comes in.

“Bunny,” I say, “I’ve been thinking. Would you like us to fix up the house a little? We can clean up all the spray paint on the walls, maybe get new wallpaper, buy a regular dining room table and a couch and a chair that matches. Would you like that?”

“No,” she says. “What for? I like our house how it is. You wouldn’t wipe off your art, would you? I love it!”

“Really?” I ask. “But I thought you liked your friend’s house.”

“I do,” she says. “For them. But I like our house for us.”

“Then why are you sad?”

“I want a puppy.”

A few days later, while Marigold is doing some research for a class project on the computer, I surprise her.

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While she was at school, I found out that the shelter had a young dog available for adoption, and I arranged for them to bring him over that afternoon.

“Look, Mom,” she says while he sleeps on the floor. “He’s got a tail like Stray Dog.”

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He looks a lot like Stray Dog, only his coat is lighter.

I asked when I called to adopt him if they knew his sire and dam. They said they knew the mother, and they suspected that the father was a gray stray with a borzoi tail.

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We think maybe Zoey is Stray Dog’s pup.

“Mom! I love him!” Marigold laughs. “He’s our own Zoey dog!”

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Zoey loves it here. He settled in right away, sleeping on the couch, on my bed, on the floor, and he’s been doing a great job eating the beef stew I fix for him.

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That evening, when I’m standing outside watching the mist settle over the meadow, Marigold rushes out to me.

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“Thanks, Mom,” she says. “I have everything now.”

I know just how she feels.

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