Copyright 2013, 2014 Catherine Carlson
Published by Catherine Carlson at Shakespir
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Table of Contents
Them Dirty, Low-down Blues Catherine Carlson
Suspicious Minds Elvis Presley
I Saw the Light Old Christian Hymn
Ten Thousand Reasons(Bless the Lord O’ My Soul Matt Redman
Don’t Give Up Calling Glory
Already There Casting Crowns
One Thing Remains Kristian Stanfill
This book is for Summer who found her forever home with us. She brought so much joy and happiness into our lives and lived her life to the fullest after a rocky beginning. She overcame her obstacles and became the cat God made her to be.
Also, this is for all the homeless and shelter animals. May God guide them to their forever home too.
Summer’s Song is a unique book in that unlike most books or stories that are divided into chapters or parts, it is divided into songs. These songs are special songs that Summer enjoyed during different times in her life. Most of them, except for one, Suspicious Minds, are Christian songs because she loved me to sing to her and these are the songs I sang. Each song reminds me of a certain segment of her life, so I thought it was fitting to use these as chapter or part headings.
To some readers, this story may seem a bit sad, and I guess it is. I had a hard time writing it, but Summer’s life had a purpose I believe and that was to show that a human being should never give up on an animal, no matter how unsocial or even feral it may seem.
Summer’s life demonstrated the change within her once she had people who loved and cared for her and took the time to show her people could be trusted. After her socialization process, her life was a celebration that never ended as she saw things in a new light and became the animal God had intended for her to be.
This then, is my purpose in writing this story. I wish it was longer, but this was her life and it is what it is. I hope you enjoy reading and if you get nothing else out of it, please don’t forget the animal shelters and Humane Society whenever you want to add an animal to your family. By adopting from these institutions, you’ll be saving a life. We adopted Summer at the Gulf Coast Humane Society in Corpus Christi, Texas.
God Bless you and your pets
Them Low-down Dirty Blues
I’ve been down so long it looks like up
Never a friend I’ve seen
These tired old feet just keep movin’ on
No place to lay my head to sleep.
Oh yeah, them dirty-low-down blues.
Catherine Anne Carlson
The shelter resounded with human voices, animal cries, and underlying melodies of agony. Behind closed doors, mean metal cages lined the hall. In contrast to the misery these cages contained, music played from some unseen source. The stench of despair and fear assaulted me as my husband and I walked down the aisle with cages on either side of us.
We had just lost one of our two older cats to an undiagnosed disease and two weeks later we decided to open our home to another cat in need. Sometimes strays wandered into our yard and we always fed them, but since they were nearly always males, they would leave in a couple of weeks. They were feral and most of the time they ran from us.
At other times, we visited the Gulf Coast Humane Society to adopt an animal. We never bought them from pet stores or breeders. We just didn’t believe in it. Our cat, Tabitha, was sixteen years old when she left this earth and although I loved both of our senior companions, Tabitha and Pepper, I felt I needed a change and wanted to adopt a younger feline this time. A younger cat would, I hoped give us a chance to mourn our beloved pet, but not wallow in the sorrow and misery of her death. This last thought wormed its way into the front of my mind as I forced myself to look inside the cages we passed. I wanted to take all of them home, but I could only choose one and it was one nightmarish choice.
Cats of every color and breed filled the cages. Some of them had long fur, some short, others stood on their hind legs, front paws clawing at the steel door and meowing. Others jumped up and down crying. It broke my heart seeing those animals in such unnatural surroundings, but I knew the alternative was even worse, a life on the streets.
There were so many cats, how could I choose and was it even fair for me to choose which cat would live while a good portion of the rest would be euthanized if no one ever came to give them a home?
We discussed this topic as we walked past a cage that literally took my breath away. Stopping in mid-step, we turned and peered inside. Hidden in the back was a small speckled ball, not moving and barely breathing. At first I thought the cat was sick, but later we found out it wasn’t physical problems that had her curled up in what only could be described as a fetal position, but she suffered from a deep hopelessness and depression. Her entire body screamed out, “I don’t care. Leave me alone.”
The tag attached to her cage informed us that she was a year old Tortoise Shell named Speckles. Really? Speckles? I could see how they got the name, but I couldn’t help thinking that name seemed silly and undignified.
A woman sporting a shelter uniform saw us standing by the cage and asked us if we wanted to see Speckles. We booth said we did, and she opened the door and reached far back into the cage. Grasping her by the scruff of her neck, she pulled her out and held the cat up for us to see. Speckles’ face was beautiful with turquoise eyes and a small yellow patch of fur just below her mouth that made her look as if she had a beard. I petted her, but she ducked her head in and pulled away. She was frightened and I didn’t blame her, since she had never seen us before. Speckles definitely had some issues even though she looked fine physically, though a bit undernourished. She was pretty small for being a year old, and looked more like a six month old kitten. But I realized that she was just the kind of animal who needed a home most of all She stole our hearts and we couldn’t leave without her.
One day someone called the shelter about a stray cat that ran into their yard every day, knocked over their garbage can and sometimes wandered around the yard scrounging for food.
Volunteers set up a trap in the yard and when they returned to check on the stray, a hungry, frightened, and disheveled cat stared up at them with wide green-blue eyes,
When I heard that< I couldn’t help but wonder what this poor cat’s life had been like with no food, or shelter and no one to love and take care of her. While listening to the story of how they had trapped and captured Speckles, I couldn’t believe the woman’s next remark.
After capturing Speckles, they brought her to the shelter and after a time, some people came in and adopted her. A little while later, they brought her back. It could have been because they were moving and couldn’t have pets, but somehow I didn’t think that was the case. I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that they brought her back to the shelter like an item of
clothing that didn’t fit. We’re talking about an animal here, people, a living breathing being with a personality and feelings, a creation of God. How anyone could do such a thing, I wondered.
Six months later, Speckles was still at the shelter and her future was uncertain, since so many other cats and kittens had arrived and space was limited.
My reluctance to adopt turned into determination and after hearing the unbelievable story of her return, we wanted nothing more than to get her out of there and home with us.
We brought a carrier and I left the building to get it as soon as the woman finished her story. I think that was the fastest I’d ever run and after grabbing the carrier, I dashed back to the building, threw open the door and found the woman still holding our new addition.Depositing Speckles inside the carrier; we thanked the woman and walked back to our truck. We were homeward bound with our little bundle of fur.
On the way back, my daughter, Tracy talked to the frightened cat, tried petting her and reassuring her that she was safe and everything was alright. I couldn’t resist turning around every so often to take a peek at her, but she stayed curled up in a ball far back in the carrier, her back turned toward us. She looked so scared, it broke my heart to see her that way and it suddenly hit home how much work lay ahead of us.
An hour later we pulled into our driveway and after getting out of the truck, I carefully picked up the carrier and transported it into the house. Setting it on the living room floor, I opened the door and Speckles darted out and hid under the couch staring out at us with wide eyes. We tried to coax her out, but she ignored us, so we left her alone and eventually she poked her head out followed by the rest of her. Carefully, I picked her up, put her on the couch and then moved away, not wanting to scare her any more than she already was.
It took maybe a week or two for her to gain enough confidence to stay out in the open and not scramble to a favorite hiding place.
As soon as we walked in the door with her and got comfortable, we started thinking of a new name for her. Since we adopted her in August, we all thought Summer would fit her. It suited her better than Speckles anyway, we thought.
During those years after we brought Summer home, I worked as a cashier at a fast food restaurant and my shifts ran from six in the morning until two in the afternoon and sometimes later. I was exhausted all the time and my weight ballooned up. Every night I was in bed by nine and up by four in the morning.
As much as I would have loved staying home with Summer, it just wasn’t possible. That’s how Tracy, my daughter got elected to take over Summer’s socialization.
She worked with her every day for about a year and I did too, when I could. Tracy would pick her up and put her on her bed. She talked to her and petted her. Over time, Summer developed a sense of trust and we saw a welcome change in her behavior. Summer sat with us at night while we watched TV and let us pet her. All of us celebrated the first time we heard a soft purr.
Summer’s metamorphosis included new behaviors. Instead of running in and out of the house, undecided about what she wanted, she stayed outside more and started exploring the acreage around our small house. The house sat on a half-acre which included our yard, the rock gardens that my husband created years ago, and the milo and cotton fields.
When Summer felt adventurous at night or early in the morning, she would trot across the field dividing our house from my husband’s aunt’s house. She would go around to the back porch and devour whatever food his aunt left out for her cat.
I was shocked when I discovered Summer’s wanderings. It just never occurred to me that go way over there and steal her cat’s food. I really should have guessed she would wander even though she was spayed, but that was before she saw the light. Once her eyes were opened, Summer began trusting other people and her world so it was logical that she would go wherever her fancy took her.
Our cats loved living in the country and they had the freedom to go wherever they wanted without the fear of traffic or mean-spirited kids chasing them.
Summer’s life was full of joy. We saw it when she greeted us each day with her tail vibrating. She would look up at us with round expressive eyes full of love.
A person doesn’t normally think about the virtue of patience when it comes to cats, but she had the patience of Job, even when the other cats in our household would infringe on her territory and try to engage her in a tussle. She would put up with their antics with the grace that few human beings would have under similar circumstances and this would amaze me. Summer would ignore them for just so long and then when she’d had enough, she would stare at them with an expression that might have said, “Leave me alone. I’m not in the mood now.” The instigator would then move off and lose interest. One thing peculiar to her, is that Summer never ever fought with another cat. I don’t know if it was her temperament or the fact that she just never took them seriously enough. Anyway, I was glad and thankful for this small blessing.
Her life wasn’t unusual. She was just an ordinary cat, certainly not famous like Bob The Street Cat. (If you haven’t read this book, you should either pick it up at the bookstore, or on Kindle. It’s an excellent book The whole title is A Street Cat Named Bob by James Bowen. This cat did tricks on the street and that’s how he and his owner survived.
Summer’s life was not like Bob’s. It was how she lived she lived it that was extraordinary after her socialization and the care of a loving family. She lived her life as a celebration of the world she had not known until she was socialized and belonged to someone. Summer had missed out on a lot of things and now she was just being a cat, doing cat things, catching up with her life and loving it.
Whenever I think of Summer and I think of her often, I remember some special things about her. She loved music both on the radio and people singing. Her tail would vibrate back and forth and she’d stare with saucer-size eyes into the face of the singer, whether it was me, my husband or my daughter. And she couldn’t be still then. She would knead your lap or your arm or any, other body part that was close. Sometimes she would even get on her toes and step up and down in place like a dancer,
My daughter, Tracy would sing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” at Christmastime. And she’d go wild with excitement. That was one of her favorite songs.
I like Christian music, so I’d sing Amazing Grace My Chains are Gone, or Ten Thousand Reasons (Bless the Lord O My Soul, by Matt Redman among others. The song choice didn’t matter to her, as long as she heard a voice singing to her, that was what she loved.
The years passed too fast. Our days were filled with cats, chickens, vet appointments, and then came the holidays, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Our animals were happy and healthy I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I was blessed and life was good.
Summer grew into a healthy happy cat and weighed in at twelve pounds on one of her annual vet visits.
She had come a long way from that antisocial, depressed, underweight kitten we saw at the Humane Society, She loved life and every day was a brand new experience for her.
When she was about ten years old, we took her to the vet again for her annual shots. She had lost more weight and it was more noticeable. I was worried, but the only thing we could do was keep an eye on her.
She ate and drank normally, but I noticed that she didn’t spend as much time outside running around as she did before, and she started sleeping more.
Even though her energy seemed lower, my husband told me she still ate and drank and behaved the same. Summer didn’t seem to be in any pain, but I had a bad feeling that something was wrong. We delayed taking her to the vet and opted to watch her and see if this thing passed.
Then after a while, I informed my husband that I was taking Summer to the vet to get checked out, especially when she started using the litter box instead of going outside to go like she usually did. The litter boxes were for bad weather or late at night when we weren’t up to let them out.
Our vet noticed that Summer lost more weight, but he couldn’t find anything wrong with her. He gave us some vitamins we had to give her and we all hoped that was all she needed.
Poor s\Summer had to endure us squirting vitamins down her throat twice a day. It was a little messy at first, but I think she knew we were trying to help her and she took it without any fuss.
The vitamins might have given her a little more energy, but she didn’t gain any weight, and when we took her back to the vet, she had lost even more weight. It was at this point we had blood work done on her. When the results came back, we were more confused than ever. Everything was within normal range except her blood count was a little low, but nothing to worry about, I assumed. Her kidneys and liver tested normal, but there was one more test that would determine if she had an overactive thyroid gland, a condition quite common in older cats. So, we had the test done and the vet said he would call us with the results the next day.
I waited by the pone, just knowing the test results would be positive and that was what was wrong with Summer. We would have to give her pills and although I didn’t look forward to giving Summer a pill every day, I didn’t mind doing it. I was sure she would get used to it in time.
The vet never called and it was nearly noon, so I called him and he told me that the thyroid results had come back negative. Her thyroid was functioning normally. On a scale from one to ten, my anxiety and worry barometer skyrocketed to twenty, blowing the barometer to smithereens. I couldn’t imagine what was wrong with our beautiful loving cat. We were back to square one with no prognosis and no treatment in sight. There was nothing for us to do but to keep watching her to see how she behaved and if she lost more weight. Summer spent more time sleeping in her bed in the living room, wanting to be near us, but not having the strength to do much more than eat and sleep.
Summer in happier times sleeping in her bed.
We could see that she lost more weight, so we made another trip to the vets. She was now down to four pounds and we still had no idea what was causing this tremendous weight loss.
After checking Summer over and still not finding the cause of her condition, the vet gave her a steroid shot, and some pills, telling us we should bring her back in a week so he can see how she was doing.
I prayed night and day that the steroids would help her and she would start getting better It is impossible for me to describe that period of our lives. All I did was cry constantly, worry and pray.
:Looking back now, it’s hard to see that period of my life clearly Everything seemed to be covered in a black fog that I couldn’t find my way out of. I felt so heavy with that darkness and sorrow. Some days I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I forced myself because of her.
Summer had nearly stopped eating by this time, She tried to go to the bathroom, but couldn’t. At first the steroids helped her eat a little and she seemed a bit more energetic, but our hopes were dashed again when she didn’t gain back any of her weight.
On the last day of Summer’s life, she went outside in the field by our house. She could barely walk and tottered from side to side on stick thin legs. It hurt me to look at her like that and at times I didn’t want to, but this was our baby who we brought out of the darkness into the light of joyful and caring humans. This was Summer’s last song and I didn’t want to hear it, but I had no choice.
When she came back from the field, her fur smelled and was thin and stiff. I didn’t know if she’d make it to the house. My husband told me that we’d watch her and would probably have to take her to the vet in the morning for her final visit. She didn’t even make it a week.
The next morning she couldn’t even stand up. We lifted her up and put her in her carrier and made that last trip with tears in our eyes.
My daughter, Tracy didn’t go. She couldn’t handle it and neither could I. but I had to be there for her. I didn’t blame my daughter in a way, because she had been the main family member who socialized her.
My husband couldn’t stand to be in the room, but I had to be there even though I wanted to run screaming and crying out the door. Someone had to be strong and be there for her. I couldn’t let her die alone.
Before he gave Summer the shot that would give her relief, the vet looked at her tongue and found that it had turned yellow, a sign of liver disease. For some reason, the condition didn’t show up on the test. He said sometimes that happens, and just our luck that it happened with our beautiful cat, Summer.
After looking at her tongue and confirming his diagnosis, he said, in his opinion, “it was time.” So, standing next to the table she lay on, I petted her for the last time as the vet injected the substance that would end her pain and physical life, but never touch her spirit.
Summer’s life was a series of melodies. She had emerged victorious from “Them Low-Down-Dirty Blues periods of her life to One Thing Remains, and that one thing her last song of freedom, light, joy and peace. Summer remains the poster cat for homeless everywhere. She found her forever home with us and will be waiting for me by the rainbow bridge.
Although Summer isn’t Physically here anymore, I feel her everywhere. I feel all our cats everywhere when they pass.
I see her lying on the chair my husband sits in, or lying on top of the couch, a place she loved. And once while writing this, I dreamed I saw her sitting under the evergreen in our front yard staring out at me with luminous eyes, whole and healthy, the way she used to be.
Her eyes stared directly into mine and I heard her “I’m still here. We’ll be together again. You taught me to love and trust and that will go on and on forever. Don’t cry. I’m here and you are not alone.”
To this day, I don’t know if that was a dream or a vision of her. Either way I know I’ll see her and all my cats that have passed again. I’m hoping God will reserve a place in my mansion in heave for all the animals that were part of my household here on earth.
Thank you for joining me on my journey through Summer’s life Writing this story has helped me in the grief process, but as I began writing, I realized I had another purpose, to bring the plight of homeless animals.
Like humans, animals are born and die, and between that time it our responsibility to see that they are loved and cared for. The best way we can do this is to adopt from animal shelters Some of them may be like Summer, and need extra care and love and attention, but the reward is oh, so worth it, You would be helping an animal find a forever home and saving the life not only of that animal, but another one that will take its place in the shelter
Thank you again and God Bless you and all the animals in your life.
Summer in the rocking chair in better days.
About the Author
Catherine Carlson is a published author and writes in many genres. She is a retired teacher and lives in South Texas with her husband and daughter.
She loves animals and has three cats and eleven chickens. Among her hobbies are reading, knitting, exercising, latch hooks and playing music in her church band.
She is a short story writer, but might publish a novel sometime in the future. Her writing and animals keep her busy, but she always finds time for writing.
Other books by this author
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The Fortune Cookie
The Christmas Wish
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Summer' Song is the true story of a cat we adopted from the Gulf Coast Humane Society in Corpus Christi. Summer roamed the streets and lived many lives before she reached a year old. When we saw her, she was curled up in a ball in the back of the cage, undernourished, scared and depressed. This is the story of how we socialized her and it changed her life. She wasn't the same cat. She was lovable, enjoyed music and being sung to. Her journey had been a hard one, but in the end, her life was a celebration of life she had never know before.