I found her abandoned on a gravel road about three miles away from here. She was around four or five weeks old, her eyes still blue. After I brought her home, she walked around in a circle in the yard, grass up to her neck, mewing as loudly as she could. It was a plaintive calling, a distressed voicing. She continued it for hours, interrupted only for feeding on the concoction that Randa formulated. Randa held her for hours, too, letting her snuggle up against her neck where she tried her best to nurse on the surrogate mother. Randa was less tolerant of that.
By the next day, Ginger’s loud mewing had morphed into a squeaking, a raspy, hoarse calling that could barely be heard. She still walked about her circle in the yard if put down, still searching for her mother.
Two years later, she is quite adjusted to her life here on our little place but still carries the evidence of that orphaning. She cannot meow as a normal cat. After spending the night outdoors or in the barn, when she is grateful and glad to see us opening the back door, she charges in, making happy little noises that sound much like a chirping bird. In other moods, she can growl convincingly.
On a happier note, her purring apparatus works quite well, a very soothing and reassuring voicing of security and contentment. She still tries from time to time to “nurse” on Randa’s neck, usually in the wee hours of the morning when Randa is trying to sleep. The cat gets a quick whack on the head and quickly concludes that she should seek closeness elsewhere.
In spite of the strained larynx and the sprained psyche, Ginger is still able to convey appreciation and warning, closeness and threat. To our knowledge, she has never played with another animal and seems reluctant to cultivate that skill with the dog we acquired last fall. But, at least they can occupy the same territory now without the hissing and spitting that marked the first few months. Perhaps in a year or so, they might become buddies. Perhaps…
With gentleness and patience, and a discerning firmness, we can help the scared and scarred of this world learn of trust and closeness. And no matter how racked and wrecked our own voices, we can still praise our Maker, still offer consolation to other of his children. It is not the beauty of the song that pleases him but the sincerity of our expressions.