There’s always one. No matter how many are in a litter, there’s always one.
His name was Goldie.
His fur was golden, which is why he was given the name Goldenrod. (Weren’t we original?!) Goldie came to our house along with a passel of other kittens and cats when our brother Jacob brought a large burlap bag full of felines to our home. Standing there in the yard, he heaved the bag onto the grass, turned it so the opening was at the bottom, and then lifted it high. In one big whoosh, the cats and kittens were out of there and gone. I’m not sure why Jacob brought the cats unless he thought we needed some mousers or some playmates – or both.
In time, most of them became our friends. There was White Bib, a gentle calico cat who produced lovely and genteel kittens. We liked White Bib because she was a good mama and allowed us to play with her kittens.
And – there was Goldie, who – usually – patiently allowed us to use him as a child when we played church on the porch steps or loaded him up with other cats to go for strolls in the yard. He was the biggest and the most fluffy, with claws that were quick and sharp.
There’s always one that sticks out, whether it’s cats, kittens, puppies, or kids. Always one who is a little different, one in every litter.
We had our favorites – sometimes because a personality clashed with a particular cat. Some of us got along better with one than another. It was easy to hold a particular kitten more than that one because it was more loveable.
So when we chose “children” for our church service, each of us had specific ones we would rather have. There was always one in every litter.
We also had a baby buggy- a real, honest-to-goodness baby buggy that we wheeled around the yard in our escapades of grocery shopping in our uncle’s fields. We’d plunk a cat down onto the soft padding of the buggy, and away we’d go. Sometimes Goldie complied, but most times he tried to escape. That’s because he meowed to his own heartbeat.
While he’d lie semi-contentedly on our laps during “church” on the porch steps, flopping his tail, he never quite acquiesced to the baby buggy. Goldie proved it the day he managed to escape from the buggy out of our reach and ran into the woods next to the house. ‘Only problem was, he was wearing a doll dress. It didn’t stop him in the least. Instead, he high-tailed it out of sight.
We were afraid he’d get caught up in brambles from that dress. It was a faded, pale blue dress with three buttons in the back. All three buttons were neatly buttoned up his back, the final one at the nape of the back of his neck. We envisioned him trying to climb a tree or run from a dog, or the dress getting caught on brambles while he tried to run. We feared for his life, for Goldie certainly would not have been able to outrun or outclimb another animal.
We needn’t have feared. A few days later, Goldie sauntered back into the yard. ‘Should have known, for he was that one in the litter! The dress had blood stains on it and one of my sisters refused to use that dress on her cats, even though it had been laundered.
I suppose we could have been accused of animal cruelty. After all, we kept the cats encased in the baby buggy and would not allow them to escape because we needed real living beings to be our “children” as we played house. While our cats squirmed and clawed and meowed to beg for mercy, we kept them sequestered on our laps as we played church on the porch steps.
Maybe that’s why I’m still partial to cats. Strays keep finding their way to my house, and I keep feeding them, hoping to make mousers out of them. I’ve not been too lucky on that count. They’re either too wild or too lazy to catch mice for me.
A few years ago, Priscilla showed up at our door. Priscilla is gray and white instead of golden. Priscilla is as fluffy and plump as Goldie was, and would be content to wear doll dresses, and certainly be cooperative when it comes to being a child while playing “church”.
Sometimes I’ve even wondered what it would be like to put Priscilla into a doll dress and see how she’d respond. I suppose she’d just curl up into a ball and purr to her heart’s content. She’s that cuddly and that lazy. She’s the one in the litter. Yep, she’s different, all right. She definitely purrs to her own heartbeat.
When we learn to embrace the difference, we find ourselves allowing that one to be different and to have that difference be okay.
When we learn not to try to make that one be like all the rest, we are embracing the difference.
Here’s the wisdom: Let that one in the litter keep on being that one in the litter!
Whether we’re talking about a litter of kids or of kittens, we do well to allow that one to be different rather than fighting that difference or trying to change its natural bent.