The horse's pasture to the East...

Friday, May 20, 2016

THEY TALK TO ME or How I Let the Cat Out of the Bag

They talk to me. Always have. And I never tell anyone about it. 

I remember telling my Grandmother about a cat talking to me, one of hers. It was a barn cat, one of those busy, independent creatures you see in the background at nearly every working farm. They have a job and like to be left to it. But this particular cat, a black and white tabby with long hair that she was very proud of, walked past me, stopped to look at me and said, very distinctly, " Have you seen my baby? I'm worried." 

I didn't think anything of it. I was four years old. Everything in the world makes sense when you're that age because no one has said otherwise. So I went in to the kitchen to find my Grandma, to ask her if she had seen a kitten. She had. She was cleaning a tiny wound on it's leg. I told her Mama Cat was looking for her baby, needed to have her back in the nest with the others.

Grandma was one tough cookie. She wasn't prone to smiling or even being particularly affectionate, except with her cats. She smiled at me and took the kitten back out to Mama Cat. She never asked me how I knew Mama Cat was worried.

Later that Summer (I was wearing my same favorite pair of fading, patched overalls. That's how I know it was the same year. I wasn't allowed to wear my dresses when working.) I was sitting at the breakfast table in the kitchen, the one with the red formica top, and eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The peanut butter kept sticking to the roof of my mouth so I had to drink lots of milk too. Grandma did have her ways of getting tiny, "bird girls" to eat. That was her nickname for me, Birdgirl. 

I sat there, banging my legs against the chair, jelly on my chin and I said, " Grandma, Penny says that her hips hurt today. She wants to go lay outside in the sun. Makes her feel better." Animals talked more in images than words. I was four. It was just another part of my day. And I spent more time with the four legged creatures than two legs anyway. I was just having a lunch time conversation with my Grandma. No big deal. " She likes that place in the garden, next to the fence."

Whoa! Stop the horses. She looked at me like I had leaves growing out the top of my head and there were big bugs on those leaves. It wasn't easy to have Grandma look at me like that. She could be a bit scary, she was so big and strong and direct. I stopped chewing on that sticky sandwich and swallowed with a big GULP! I had somehow crossed over a line I didn't know was there.

"What do you mean Birdgirl? How do you know that?" She pretty much had me pinned to my chair with those eyes, looking at me. 

" She told me, Grandma." I'd been taught to always be honest. It was much easier to tell the truth than to try to remember the lies. My legs weren't bouncing against the chair anymore. Mostly I just wanted to go outside, maybe climb a tree or hide in the tall pasture grass. I was not used to being on Grandma's radar like this.

"Show me where Penny likes to sleep. Outside, right now!" Uh oh. I needed to get up but her eyes had me pinned to the chair. The peanut butter didn't taste so good now. " NOW! Up and out of that chair." I could feel the tears coming. I wasn't used to anyone raising their voice to me. I was in serious trouble and had no idea why. I needed to move but my legs just did not seem to want to work. I'd gone tharn, like a deer in the headlights at night. I ... could ... not ... move.

And then she softened her eyes, leaned over and picked me up, something she hadn't done in a very long time, and hugged me. She whispered in to my ear, " I'm sorry Baby Bird. I didn't mean to frighten you. I am so sorry. " I rested there for a moment, listening to her heartbeat. It was easier to hide close up than to try to get away. I was that frightened. And she was bigger than I was, stronger. Freeze. Very still. Wait.

She sat me back down in my chair, wiped the tears away from her face and mine. Grandma was crying too! What was going on? Grandma never cried. And she sat there for a moment looking down. (I should stop and tell you here that moments to a four year old can seem like centuries. Schedules and deadlines, goals and clocks are not part of the vocabulary of most four year olds. There is no reference for time or how it flows.) 

She got up, practical and very Grandma, took down the little plate she used for cookies and piled some ginger snaps up for me, filled my glass with more milk and didn't even tell me to finish my sandwich! This was all new to me, a true revelation. Something big was coming, something worthy of more cookies than she usually gave me, a pile so high that the top one fell off right on to the table! And then she poured herself a glass of milk and sat down across from me. " Now, tell me how you know about Penny's hips and her favorite place next to the fence. Be honest. You aren't going to get in to trouble. I promise." Grandma never lied either. So I told her how Penny had showed me "pictures in my head".

We sat there, eating our cookies, while she asked questions and I told her about how the milk cows were always sad because their babies were taken away. And the pigs were mean because they knew what was coming and were willing to fight to the end to save their babies. I told her about Grandpa's horses and how much they loved him because he let them live in a big, green pasture and knew where all of the itchy places were but one of them had a front left hoof that hurt. 

And I was surprised when Grandma told me that other people couldn't hear them too. In that four year old way I had just assumed it was normal to "hear/see" what cats and dogs, cows, horses and, well, all of them had to say. I even told her that the wrens nesting over the front porch light were glad she didn't turn on the light and told people to come to the back door instead. 

She sat there, watching and listening to me chatter. The cookies were really good, fresh and right from the cooling rack on the counter. And she hadn't separated the milk either. It still had cream floating in it, almost like ice cream in a glass. Being afraid was in the past. I'd forgotten about her voice being so loud. And I took her outside to show her where Penny liked to be, next to the iris where she could lean against the fence. 

She sat down next to me, right there in the garden, and said, " Nancy, I want you to make me a promise. This is important and you can never break it ever. " I sat there, solemn. This was a bit like making "swears" with my cousins when they didn't want me to tell on them. Serious stuff. 

" Promise me that you will never tell other people about this thing you can do, this talking with animals. Never tell anyone you can hear them. They won't understand and will try to take you away. Promise now. Please, Baby Bird. Promise me this one promise. It's a really big girl, important promise. " She was so intense, so certain and genuinely afraid. So, of course, I made my promise. And for years and years I kept it too. It's the only thing she had ever asked me to do. It was that important to her, so I kept it.

The years rolled along, the way they always do for all of us. I grew up. Grandma and Grandpa, my parents and other people I loved left this world. I always had animals around me though; hamsters and guinea pigs, mice, ducks and dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, horses and donkeys. I'd stop along the road to meet a cow or two when I was out driving by myself, put out bird feeders so I could listen to the "chatter" between cardinals and robins. And I never said anything except in the form of an on going story about Archimedes, the talking dog, to my children. I told them, in a sideways kind of way that never, technically, broke Grandma's promise, what I could do.

And John knew, but he is my heart. Telling him just happened one day and he never doubted me. It wasn't a big deal. Just something that happened. Love has no boundaries, thankfully.

And then yesterday happened.( gulp, she said in a teeny, tiny voice. ) I went to visit a local rescue with a friend. She's taking one of the horses, a four year old gelding. His new name is going to be Tucker, which he "told me" he approves of. Likes it much better than his present moniker, Cocoa. 

We walked around visiting horses, dogs, cats, chickens and even a very cool garden pond full of fat, happy carp. Fish dreams are always from below, looking up. It's a weird perspective from my point of view. They loved the moving water (from a pump that made a water fall).

I met an aging, sad thoroughbred mare who was standing in the corner of her open stall, staring at a wall. I stood quietly at the door, waiting for permission to enter her bedroom space. (I really liked this place. The animals all had ways to come and go freely. It was tidy, organized and had a friendly energy to it.)

She turned and stretched her head out to touch my hand, giving me the permission I was waiting for. And then she began to "talk/send" to me. It was so important to her that someone hear her. She was sorry, sad, lonely and her front legs hurt. All of her children were "away" and she couldn't hear them. She was thankful but sad and very tired. 

Without thinking about what I was doing, I told her story out loud. I broke my promise to my Grandma. I didn't think about what I was doing until I got home. She needed so much for someone to know what she felt! I never thought about what the other two leggeds there with us would think of me. Her sadness was overwhelming. And I wasn't thinking. I was feeling and reacting.

And then the others began to come up, horses and dogs, cats. I was mobbed! We "talked", all of us. I only translated for a couple of the other horses. And I just never thought what the other people there might feel about me. I was so completely in my element and they were all having so much fun "sending" to me. Even the sad ones were happy to be there, glad they could rest a spell.

I was pretty tired by the time we left. They were all so adamant and excited. And I never thought about the promise I was breaking. 

When my friend and I got back home, she hugged me and said, " I didn't know you were psychic!" Uh oh. I froze. I'd forgotten. In the excitement of having so many new friends who needed to talk, to say thank you and "tell" me about their stories I had completely slipped. I'd let someone I'm only just forming a friendship with see my real self. Oh man.

So I said, " Please, don't tell anyone. People freak out when they know about this. I really don't like to let people know about this. " 

I don't think she will. But I forgot to ask the person who owns the rescue not to say anything. And she didn't seem upset when I told her what I was "seeing/hearing" from her horses. I'm afraid the cat is out of the bag, so to speak. And last night I slept better than I have in a long, long time. I was completely myself yesterday, no filters. It was such a relief! And I never thought twice about it either. Didn't notice until we got home and my friend called me psychic. 

Oh my. Now what? Again, I am licking and chewing and, MAJOR HUGE GULP HERE!, writing this all down and getting ready to hit that scary, hairy publish button. I have to admit my stomach is rolling around and my hands are sweaty. I'm liable to loose some friends over this one. Oh my.

I am, ever yours, Nancy, almost smiling and kind of shaky here (but, oh, how deeply and well I slept last night! That means something, right? I was just me yesterday, no hiding. I went to bed relaxed and comfortable in my "own shoes".)

I'm sorry Grandma ... but then, again, I guess I'm not.

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