I phoned my sister-in-law Loretta, that I haven’t seen for quite some time to see how she was coming along through her bout with cancer. She is being treated with chemotherapy and doing very well, considering all that she’s been going through.
While on the phone with her, I overheard my two nieces in the background, Gina and Angela, who were very excited to hear from me. It’s been too many years that have gone by, and they wanted to fill me in on what was going on in their lives today. And one after the other they talked to me ever so sweetly.
It was easy for me to see the love that’s been keeping their family healthy and together through their crisis. My brother, Dominic, had a spell with cancer well over 10 years ago and is in remission today. I clearly remember the day (while he was ill) that I paid him a family visit, because it had such a powerful impact on me:
It was in the afternoon, and his entire family just got back from a Church service that was held especially for him, by Pastor Joseph Veltri, who is Loretta’s brother. Loretta was preparing him a delicious lunch that was fitted for a king. Angela and Gina, then in their teens, were baking him his favorite double layer banana cake. They all hovered over him with such love, kindness, and attention, that I know by the grace of God, brought my brother’s cancer into remission! The house was filled with such a warm, loving, and homey feeling that I felt as though I was sitting in the Little House on the Prairie. There were a couple of playful cats on the sofa and beneath my feet that rubbed their fur against my legs. “Wow, look at all the beautiful cats," I said. This is when I learned that Gina, the oldest daughter was involved with homeless pets.
Angela was still in high school, and in her studies with social working which she earned her psychology degree today. She worked as a Counselor in Friends Mental Health Hospital for many years until recently taking a new position in a hospital for the retired and elderly. The entire family has been a pillar to the community towards supporting the best welfare of people from every corner of the way, which I felt that I had to share their ‘secret’ of keeping a family together through the struggling we all come to one time or another.
It helps to know that besides their own struggles in life, my brother has not forgotten the care of our 53-year-old younger brother (diagnosed with mental health since the age of 21) and sees to it that our entire family ‘equally’ does their share towards his best welfare. And Loretta has lovingly not forgotten to take care of her parents up until the day they passed on; all during taking care of her expanding family.
I included an email that I recently got from Gina and the work she is doing with homeless pets. I think that this says a lot:
Hello Aunt Cathy!
I've been doing animal rescue for as long as I can remember. My Mother always had cats, so I grew up with them. A few years back I got involved in Forgotten Cats.. They are a no kill, all volunteer group, that does everything to help cats. www.forgottencats.org . I gave them rights to show my Dirty Old Stray video which is on their site. I wrote a very short story of a mother cat (which is also now on video form on You Tube) which was posted in FC's letter appeal. It is helping FC gain many donations!
Aunt Cathy, did you get a chance to check out the video poem of Dirty Old Stray? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7FMVMmp7KA I also have a lot of videos posted. One of them is of Foster, my dad's cat that he took in. Foster was found living outside and underweight and just a complete mess! He was de-clawed so other cats beat him up quite badly. He is the sweetest cat you could meet. He lives at my Dad's shop and he could not be happier now.
Thank you for taking time to understand and sharing the forgotten cats that are so close to my heart.
Poem Lyrics to video:
Dirty Old Stray by Gina DeNofa
There once was a kitten who use to have fun,
but now is a cat that belongs to know one.
She walks through alleyways, tripping people's feet,
while searching for dropped hot dogs along the street.
Her eyes once bright and green,
are now quite dull, the color no longer to be seen.
Her coat, once soft and full, now covered in dirt and ash,
since her only meals are from unwanted trash.
Still trusting and wishing, the cat runs to people, purring to employ,
"Please take me home, I'll be a friend to your little boy!"
But humans do not see the feline's words of love,
so they yell and give her a shove.
Men, women, and even children wrinkle their noses and say,
"Who would want a dirty old stray!"
No one wants her today, the cat's eyes are clear,
so slowly she sulks back to the alley, her heart fills up with tears.
She slips into a cardboard box, finds a rubber band and pretends to play,
for you see my friends, small ones have no words and she has nothing to say.
Winter arrives with chills in the air,
so our little cat is forced back into her lair.
Everything has frozen, no garbage to pick,
so our little stray becomes quite sick.
She's so tired and weak, no longer wishes to roam,
maybe God will give her a loving home.
So unwanted and forgotten, our little one curls up and quietly passes away...
For you see my friends, who would want a dirty old stray?
After all these years and talking with my brother’s family today; it unveiled the powerful secret in how some families grow successful and abundant: at whatever time everyone is not forgotten.
PS - And by the way, please ‘don’t forget’ to click on the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7FMVMmp7KA
Causes Catherine Nagle Supports
Westwind Foster Family Agency, Christian Children's Fund, Compassion International, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Invisible Children, Save the Children