The Women’s Ministries Book group of First Church Longmeadow will reconvene Monday, December 7, 2015 at 7pm in the Buxton Room. We will be discussing Patti Smith’s new memoir M Train.
The website Brain Pickings (which you should consider bookmarking if you havent already) has put together a salient & beautiful review of this book.
Copies of M Train will be available on reserve in the Storrs Library on the “First Church” reserve shelf within the next couple of weeks. Because this is a brand new book, it may be difficult to reserve many copies for any length of time, but we will try. The book is also available online at Amazon & in bookstores everywhere (especially independent bookstores – purchase from there if you can, I am sure Patti would approve!)
Last year we had a wonderful time reading our way through a couple of books & sharing our dreams & experiences. One thing that we were reminded of is that women of our faith community are intellectually powerful. I chose this book because I am sure the wisdom, poetry & intellectual rigor of this author will challenge us all (in a good way)!
This is an open group – we welcome those both from our church & those who are not – so please bring a friend, I will see you all in December.
The 300th Anniversary events & celebration are underway at First Church! Where have we come from… where are we headed? This is an exuberant time – filled with possibility & hopes for the future.
Recently, MassLive published an article detailing plans around this momentous event: MassLive Article on the 300th Anniversary
In this, our 300th year, we are not only celebrating this great milestone but we are also looking toward our future. We will be using the wisdom of perspectives from our history to do some visioning about the future of the church. – Deb Garrity, Director of Communications
This weekend marks a Kickoff Event on the steps of the church & green. Town & local officials will join in this festive entryway to celebrating 300th Celebrations.
The entire anniversary year is expected to be filled with a range of wonderful activities & spirit.
Have you had a chance to check out the interactive historical timeline on the First Church website? There is so much history – so many stories – all of which are not only important to the history of First Church, but for our entire community.
Remember to mark your calendars – this Saturday October 3 @ 11am
Hope to see you at the kickoff celebration!
The third meeting of the Women’s Ministries Book group will be this coming Monday at 7pm in the Buxton Room. We have read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s Gift from the Sea, a beautiful, self-reflective book that was written in 1955. Here are some additional background resources for your information & enjoyment:
- Here is a 2006 story by NPR, complete with excerpts & links of interest, in which Anne’s daughter Reeve discusses the book.
- Here is a biography of Anne Morrow Lindbergh available on the Lindbergh Foundation’s website.
- Here is an obituary. Her role as copilot for her husband and an aviator in her own right is an important piece history to recognize.
- Once she said of flying, “”Flying was a very tangible freedom. In those days, it was beauty, adventure, discovery — the epitome of breaking into new worlds.”
We hope you will join us for a discussion of this wonderful life & work!
Beau was not the easiest cat to care for. He had this mentality that he was starving all the time. He was constantly preoccupied with being fed, then fed again. He would steal food from wherever he could. This was his modus operandi every day of his life. So last week, when he stopped begging, and then stopped eating, it was clear that the end was near.
Once he was gone, it was easier for me to think about why Beau was the way that he was. I wondered if it all went back to how small and sick he was when I rescued him. He was just so sick and tiny. His sister looked like a normal kitten, and he was barely moving in the same shoebox. We took him because we couldn’t bear to leave him behind. When we got him home & took a closer look at him, we were sick to find that his little teeny body, like a small rat, was covered in dead fleas and dried blood. We washed him in the bathroom sink of our little apartment. Poor baby.
In addition to foraging for food every waking moment, Beau’s other specialty was licking everyone to death. I knew this was because he had been taken from his mother too soon. Now I wondered for the first time if he was sort of slow, if mentally he was just not altogether there. Maybe all these years of being frustrated with him, I could have been fairer. Maybe he had this overly sweet & simple disposition because he couldn’t be any other way.
A couple of months before Beau died, I took him to the vet. I was ready to have him put down. He had gone from an 18 pound cat to a 6 pound cat. But he hadn’t been to the doctor in forever; so the right thing to do was get some blood work done. Wouldn’t you know, there was nothing wrong with him. No kidney issue, no hypertension. He licked me, and then walked right into his carrier. He sat there, waiting to go home. So, that wasn’t the right day to die.
Some fluids, antibiotics & prescription food: Beau had a new lease on life, until he didn’t. One day I noticed, although he was begging, he couldn’t get down the stairs as quickly. Then I noticed, he was begging, but he wasn’t eating. His sister was staying away from him.
It went pretty fast. The water bowl came up to the kitchen. The dog, who used to drive Beau crazy was laying flat on the floor watching him, now a companion rather than a competitor. His sister was nowhere to be found. On Thursday Beau walked all over the house, settling in places he hadn’t in years. The dog quietly & nicely companioned him, and when we saw that, we knew time was running out. Thursday was spent dozing in the sun patches in my daughter’s room on her bed, with the dog.
On Friday, I thought about what to do. Beau could stand in the kitchen with some water, but he couldn’t walk around the house anymore. We made him a little nest in the kitchen, by the refrigerator. He sipped water. He had a hard time relaxing – he didn’t want to close his eyes. The dog stayed with him. His sister visited a little, and then went away again.
Watching the way the animals and the kids were handling the death was making me think about how people handle death. The sister withdrawing, not comforting, too upset to participate. The dog was the wild uncle who every one had written off, but was filling these giant shoes of grief just when no one was sure where to turn.
I never really thought seriously about calling the vet. It was clear there was going to be a death. Everyone in the house knew it. There was a process going on, and the right thing to do seemed to let it run its course.
I was in touch with my Aunt via text message. She had let an old cat die at home for the first time last year. Tabasco. Every time she talks about it, she gets teary. So do I.
On Saturday, Beau was worse. At one point in the late afternoon, we could not find him. My husband went looking around the house. He found Beau in the unfinished basement on the concrete floor. He was cold & could no longer walk. His sister was on a couch beside him. We guessed Beau wanted to be near his sister, but could not jump onto the couch. Earlier that day I had been reading on the internet, what to do if your pet dies at home. One of the recommendations was to put the dead body onto the concrete floor in the basement to keep it cool.
We made Beau a new nest. This one was in the corner of the living room. We used pillows on all sides, a nice blanket. We went to bed. Sleeping was hard, but it was harder to be Beau.
In the morning, that Sunday, I woke up. I wondered if Beau was dead.
My husband was already downstairs doing the work of the house, scampering feet of the kids. There weren’t any wails or moans. No one was coming back upstairs to tell me Beau had died. Finally, my husband came upstairs.
“Is Beau dead?” I asked, sure that my night of fitful sleep and creepy dreams had portended the worst.
“No”, he said. “He’s downstairs.”
On the nest, not moving. Since we had found him on the floor of the basement, he hadn’t been able to move any longer. My husband had tried to feed him some water with a medicine dropper. Nice gesture, but it had run out of his mouth, and created a wet area around his head. I carefully lifted Beau, and I put an old bath towel underneath him. It can’t be long now, I thought.
He wasn’t struggling to breathe. He was just dying. No gasps for breath, or scared looks. He was just slipping away, at his pace rather than ours.
Midmorning, I went to check on Beau. I realized I didn’t want him to die alone in his nest. I picked up the towel, and took up a vigil on the large chair in the living room. Beau was in my lap. My book was in my hand. I wasn’t sure how long it would take, but I knew I wasn’t going anywhere until it was all over.
On my lap, I think he relaxed more. Then I thought, who wants to die alone? How many people die alone? Animals? This is would be an exception. Not only could I do it, but also Beau deserved it.
Sweet words. Caresses. Each child came to say goodbye, but there wasn’t any rush. The dog came by & licked his ears, then walked away. It was a small change when the end came. He stretched both paws in front of him, like he was trying to run. At the same time, he did gasp for breath with his eyes wide open a couple times, but did not make a sound. And then he was gone. He died while I was holding him.
What I want to say is, if you have a situation where your pet is dying a natural death; try to allow it to die the natural death. Their spirits are no different than ours. Just think about how you would like to be treated, and try to do the same.
It is not the easy way to go, but it is a better way. It takes strength to be with an animal or person until the end, but really that is what is required. That is the way life should end, if we aren’t making any excuses.
Oh, one last thing. Beau caught a bat in our apartment. In younger, wilder, healthier days, a bat had gotten into our apartment somehow, and while I cowered and screamed like a banshee, Beau saved the day and had the bat lying on its back. I remembered this highlight after he died. Here is the plaque I had made for his box of ashes:
Brother, Hunter, Bat Catcher.
Angel among Angels.
What about the bat? Hey, I never said I had all the answers.
Rest in Peace my sweet, lovely, simple, special boy.