Gordy had a favorite old mother cat named Mama Tush. She'd learned to climb the tree outside his window and jump onto the porch roof and scratch at the glass to gain admittance. On nights like last night he always greeted her with "Come in, Mama Tush, It's not fit for man nor beast out there tonight." I can hear my Canadian cousin tell this story his eyes full of laughter and his accent sounding rather Scottish. Gordy was the kind of man that everyone seemed to like, and he liked nothing better than a good story. His parents were like all other pioneering families--they thought animals had a place--and that was outside. But Gordy had different ideas, and regularly hid Mama Tush in his room--especially when she was about to have a litter. He would tell her, "Only two, now Mama Tush." And she always obliged--never producing a litter of more than two in the bureau draw prepared for that purpose!
Gordy maintained that a person can learn a lot from animals, and one day he took a life lesson from this old Tabby. Although Gordy never had any children of his own, it stayed with him as he watched his nieces and nephews grow up. One of her kittens had climbed the power pole next to the barn, and once atop it, had frozen in terror. He could neither go higher nor was he about to try to desend. Yowls quickly brought a distressed mother cat to the bottom of the pole. She scaled it and began gently to coax the kitten down. When the two finally reached the ground, Gordy says, Mama Tush's expression changed from one of concern to outright anger and disgust. She reached out her paw and cuffed the surprised kitten sending it end-over-end. She then turned and walked away leaving a very puzzled kitten struggling to regain his composure.
I'm probably the only parent that has ever felt like Mama Tush, because I'm sure your children never climbed any power poles or did anything foolish. But I certainly have felt her fear for my child, and once safety was regained her irritation and disgust as well. Why each generation has to learn by experience is one of the questions I'll ask the Lord when St. Peter lets me through the Pearly Gates (It's one of a long list of things I'd have done differently if I'd been the Almighty).
As this year's seniors leave for college, service, new jobs and lives, we can only hope that they have already climbed all their powers poles. I also hope that they treasure all that life holds for them in relationships. Gordy died last year, and I won't be enriched by his personal warmth or any more of his stories. I'm saddened by that, but thankful, too, that I met him and learned the story of Mama Tush.