Feb 14, 2018

Heartfelt Losses/ Endless Gratitudes

Goodbye to my sweet Edith, the black and white speckled Wyandotte that was one of the four earliest chicks to take up residence in my ..goodness sakes alive..dining room over a decade ago when she was only a day old.

Raised her from dining room to laundry room to the warmth of an early spring only to lose her now as she went into old lady chicken age over the speckled chicken rainbow bridge. Goodbye sweet, sweet Edith.

You join my other loved and lost feathered girls...Orphans and Adoptees...Sophie, Matilda, Penelope, Georgette, Gigi, Pia, Maxine, and Blanche and the rest of her dining bin nestmates Little Nell,Dorothy, Francine, and Angelique. Sad, sad losses, I loved and mourned them all.


Four at a time, batch after batch, all raised in bins...yes, with quilts on top at night!!!..in our dining room or laundry room. So much work but oh so much fun. And when the tiny grandchildren came along..oh how wonderful to visit Grandma and Grampa's funny farm of fun!

Leaving behind her human family and her feathered friends, Priscilla, Hazel, Esther, Nellie, Mildred, Clementine, Ping and  Duke. All but one raised in our house..yes, that infamous dining room you'd never know by how clean I am that I raise chickens inside as well as out. I like to keep an eye on them as tiny chicks too young for our usually cold and occasionally snowy late winters.

Here they are trying to revisit their childhood home. Darn chickens they do love their memory walks and yes, I forgot to close the dining room/patio sliding door to the back deck where free range to our girls meant "Home, Home on the Free Range" inside or out❣

I called them back outside and like all well behaved home raised chickens they single filed right on out that door once again!

Losing my beloved chickens, cats, and our three almost human dogs.... not to mention dozens and dozens of all of the those animals most people refuse to have in their houses as pets.....oh yes, iquanas, lizards, frogs, turtles, snakes, rats, a scorpion, a black widow spider and so many mice we had to have a Barbie Car shotgun wedding where we married two of them off before their 11 offspring were born illegitimately.

The very young children who acted as ring bears and bridesmaids for our " Mice Family Wedding of the Century" have never forgotten the fun at the Bilyeu Family Funny Farm.

And yes, it's still pretty darn crazy out here. Squirrels took over the place once my prayer flag making began. I hang blessing strips from my arches and trees out back as well as prayer flags inside and out. The squirrels love their bright colors and even more so  love lining their nest with prayers and blessings for their young.

Caught this little fellow in the act. Snipped through one side, then the other, then carted it up, up and way to his/her young's fine and well decorated home. 

Once the kids grew up and flew away to begin children, pets and farms of their own.... the fun only increased because then I channeled my crazy old lady energies into being a crazy cat lady plus big time sewing and quilting extravaganzas.

My husband has his shop. I get the house for me and the garage for fabric..ahem..storage...ahem, I meant my car and our holiday decorating bins 😊

At that point, pretty much everyone who still lived most of the time inside when they weren't escaping my frenzied fabric fun, wanted to hide and/or leave home. Here above,  a photo of Keira my very beloved magical healing energy cat. She didn't want me leaving for Alaska to care for my parents there and tried so hard to be included on the trip.

I wish I could have brought her with me now, as I was gone for several months, but she waited patiently for me and passed away after being able to spend a really loving month with me day and right before she went over the rainbow bridge. I cried for 2 weeks I loved her so.

 After we lost Keira, only her litter mate Kermit and our beloved Willow, shown above and below (my youngest daughter most favorite gift the year she turned 9.) That gift all those decades ago now, became a blessing for our entire family,

Willow lived with us as our cat during DDs college and away years and we loved our lovely fur girl so when she passed at age 16 ....after months and months of feline dementia... and me tracking her down with a flashlight day and night as she went ..blind and forgetful to sit by a small bit of water under deep grasses and have her own special adventures and times each day until dusk. Sundowning for sure.

I spent days with her in my own candlelit vigil ...petting her, talking to her and making sure she knew she was loved. Some thing I do for all of our pets when I know they are about to pass. Accidents are too horrific to sense ahead of time so those babies have much harder grieving periods. Sometimes like with humans, thry feel endless. ..But Willow was well loved with such a happy, joyfully loved life. I still cried but knew it was her time.

Then our once feral cat, Tao... who came to us on the day we buried our best friend since the 70s and neighbor of  over 20 years as he suffered a sad hiking accident and crossed the 17 year of deepest loss to join his beloved wife and 12 year daughter (my and my daughters best friends) who died in a car accident in 1997. 

After months and months of calming, befriending and finally, finally getting Tao into our house, our home and our hearts..oh we loved that boy! We brought him to the Vet to have him neutered and the vet claimed he couldn't do surgery without blood tests for contagious feline disorders. He had one... and the vet euthanized him. I still weep for the lost of that so loved boy and wish I had grabbed him up and ran screaming out of the clinic ...noooooo!

 Such is loss and such is life.  

So now, just Kermit..not a he but a she... who we were told was a he, and made croaking frog noises as a tiny kitten long years ago. Now old and barely hanging on but still here!

Kermit the hermit, our little left behind, blind and deaf in her advanced years now and senile,, she can no longer hop on top of ironing boards or go upstairs to my sewing loft. But she loves bins, baskets, and boxes and has the best life she can with all the best tins and bags of food her predecessors didn't get when they were still with us as she has other dietary challenges.

Gratitudes and deep love and los for every single pet I've ever had and all the pets my children and grandchildren have loved and lost ...my beloved grandcats.

And then the ones that I had since I was a very young child growing up on my island in Alaska.  I snuck tgem in from the cold to play in my closet or fed even more outside when my  room and closets were full and my poor mom couldn't take my big heart any more. Loved them all ..Rusty, Dusty, Lady, Pandora, Bitsy, Taffy..shown in this old photo as a kitten.... and all the ones who never made it inside but were loved and fed the best I could being a child..with scraps every day.


Our three soooo loved dogs from before the days before digital and now faded photographs in dozens and dozens of albums ferreted away like the little photo lover that I am...Snitzy, Gypsy, and Sparky..all crossed over, three little Schnauzers that we loved before and during our early child raising years..miss you so much our almost human beloved parts of our family! No photos of them in digital of course.

Now, I have a much loved Grandpup to pupsit and make pillows and quilts and fleece blankets and toys for..just as I do our oh so beloved three little grands!  Sweet Ocho has had such challenging but miracles abound and he survived two surgeries to be loved for much, much longer, now!


Now, my heart has opened up as big and as bright, as deep and as high and as wide as a heart can open from the loss of all of my pets, from the loss of friends and family that I loved with all my heart but now, it swells to bursting with love of grown children, their partners and 3 beloved grandchildren now ages 3,2, and 1. Oh the joy the such love brings!!!!!


As I look at my chickens now...Duke the unwanted but still loved rooster and his harem of the remaining 7 girls, I am grateful for them now, safe and sound behind our now fenced and gated back yard from marauding packs of raccoons and neighbors dogs. But of course the last batch came out knowing how to fly! 

And yes, I know about clipped wings but after trying to snip and clip Tao, I'm not willing to alter nature and if these chickens and one rooster cross over one by one, I will now tgey had soo muvh fun in trees and on coop-tops.

Someday,far far away in time, I pray,  it will be my turn.

I will fly free and over to join them and all of my loved ones. But for now, I am far happier than I am sad, far more filled with gratitude than with losses and laments.

But now, in the month when  our hearts glow brighter and love flows freely from quilts and crafts, my heart remembers all of my lost loves.  All our pets both feathered and furred, such loves one and all. The month of and for remembering giving, showing, and sharing love❣

Our tiniest grand turned 1 yesterday and as I sewed for her, I counted my blessings in word and in deed as I count them every day for her beloved 2 year old brother and precious little 3 year old cousin. Thank you Lord, for my pets, but thank you most of all for my family, here, there and forever everywhere in my heart!!!

Michele Bilyeu Creates With Heart and Hands as she shares her imaginative, magical, and healing journey from Alaska to Oregon. Creating, designing, sewing, quilting, and wildcrafting... from my heart and with my hands.


O'Quilts said...

Finally a lovely post to enjoy with heart..I am grateful for it. My daughter volunteers now in a chicken store, updating their website and learning all about chickens. She has just bought a house in Portland, hoping to have a chicken coup of her own..one day soon.The other day she saw a couple walking their goats on a leash like dogs...all for the love of animals...xoxox to you, my friend.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Awesome, Diane! Portland is a very progressive, eco-friendly city. Beautiful vistas and close to the ocean and mountains with reasonable drive. The traffic problems due to population growth still need to beresolved but all in all lots of kindred spirits for them and beautiful parks, exciting variety of fun things to see and do.

Winifred said...

Love that post I had to get a tissue. I'd love another kitty kat but not sure I could face another loss. It seems to get harder the older I get.
Love the photos the cat sitting on the box amongst the chickens outside the window is so lovely. WIllow looks like my daughter's young cat Ginny, tortoiseshells are so pretty. Keira looked lovely sitting on your luggage, thankfully you got back in time for her.

pollyanna said...

Hello old friend. So much love; so much happiness. Much loss filled with love and happiness. As always I adore your crazy lady life. Stay warm and cuddle with those you love.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Winifred, you are so very right. Loss does get harder, the older and older we all get. Our hearts open up and as more and more of the light flows in, the dearness, the very depth and breadth of life and its true value and meaning flows in. Sometimes everyone and everything is so touching and so dear that our eyes fill up with tears over almost everything. I keep from replacing my pets as well just because I don't want to miss them so much when they're gone, too. But, as they say, the more we have loved the more we have lost. Yet, without that beautiful ability to love look at just how much we would have missed out on! Boy, it is hard. Memories and photos and writing it all down in my blogging journal here is part of how I feel and share it with all of you. And your dear comments of connection are the gifts I receive from all of you❣❣❣

Michele Bilyeu said...

Thank you dear Pollyanna. A visit from you is a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day. Hope your road trips and family and friends time continue to fill your life with love as well❣

Mariarose said...

Thank you for sharing. I too love, love, love my pets, my lady hens, my grandchild, and my quilting and weaving. So glad to have them all in my life. And yes, I too know there is no fence tall enough to keep the lady hens inside.

Michele Bilyeu said...

Oh, MariaRose, how wonderful to hear from you! There's a special bond between daughter's who have gone through what we have. Our mothers both gone 4 going on 5 years now. Blessings to you dear lady!