A day of many goodbyes

Today marks a day of many goodbyes.

One is a goodbye and good luck to new friends that I met just a few short weeks ago. Six furry friends who gathered around them a community of thousands, wishing them well. Cared for by a man and his son, who bring laughter, comfort and meaning to people they will never meet.

Family portrait (from The Critter Room, capture by Doreen Allerkamp)
the whole family (from The whole family (from The Critter Room, capture by Doreen Allerkamp)

This family of black, white and grey fluff, paws, tails and sweet faces leaves behind happy memories of adventures, “zoomies,” “baffing” and comforting moments at the milk bar with little paws kneading to and fro. We bid farewell to yet another successful foster family of kittens as they go to new homes.

Who can forget Mama Ripley’s intense and riveting stares? Or rambunctious tabby Parker, scaling new heights in his bids to escape and explore? Mild-mannered tabby Dallas, wishing to follow his brother’s path yet content to just chill? Teddy bear tuxedo Ash, a mass of “floof” and personality? Princess Newt, cool, aloof and beautiful? And sweet pansy-faced Bishop, also dubbed “Batgirl” who loved her tummy rubs from foster dad John?

ripley's kittens by name (from The Ripley's kittens by name from The Critter Room, assembled by Antti Kivilahti)
Ripley’s kittens by name (from The Critter Room, assembled by Antti Kivilahti)

I feel the familiar catch in the throat, and the eyes well up a little when I observe them this last day on the kitty cam, and I feel immense gratitude and inspiration that people such as John and his son Chris give so generously of their time to take care of God’s little creatures.

Godspeed to Ripley and her kittens.

Then, there is the more significant goodbye to someone I’ve known all my life. My older sister Chris, and her husband Tom, begin their new life of retirement today as they move away from snow-encased Massachusetts to the warmth of Alabama.

both houses

The family homestead has been scrubbed from basement to attic and the furniture is on its way. After some thirty years, they venture out again on a new adventure.

It reminds me of the last time, in 1976, when the then 20-something couple left Massachusetts for Arizona in a Datsun 280-Z, dragging behind a U- Haul trailer. My father captured the last moments in pictures.

the first goodbye

Tom, Chris, Tim and Jeff
Tom, Chris, Tim and Jeff

Construction work was scarce in Massachusetts so Tom and Chris hoped to take advantage of the building boom in Arizona. Several of Tom’s family members eagerly awaited their arrival. They were to stay several years in Arizona where two sons would be born, only to eventually return to Massachusetts, much to the delight of our family.

This time around, Chris and Tom will return each summer to Massachusetts, to the family-built cottage on the shores of Lake Winnekeag in Ashburnham. So it’s not forever. Communication will continue as usual by phone, text, email and Facebook.

camp combined
The family “Camp” in Asburnham, MA

But in a way, it is forever. It began with the passing our parents, first with our father in 2003, and then our mother in 2010. We became orphans at that point but we also became free.

The heart aches often for the “old days” when we all gathered around the table to celebrate Thanksgiving and Christmas. When we took family vacations together. When we’d pick up the phone or receive a call, nearly on a daily basis, just to shoot the breeze and talk about our lives.

Once there were three generations ... myself, my mother, my sister and my daughter
Once there were three generations … myself, my mother, my sister and my daughter

Parents die and a way a life goes with them. Sometimes it feels like the foundation has fallen away. This is the hardest goodbye of them all.

The orphans, however, must go on. They are now the first generation, the elders that the younger generations look up to. We now set the example, embracing life again, saying “yes” to adventures and opportunities, allowing ourselves to be transformed from within with those “yeses.”

So I won’t say “goodbye” but bid “farewell” to Chris and Tom and wish them well on their new adventure. I look forward to visiting their new home and catching up on all the news.

I won’t have a heavy heart today but the catch in the throat will undoubtedly creep up on me when least expected.

Click to Tweet & Share: A day of many goodbyes, to Ripley and her kittens, and my sister http://wp.me/p2D9hg-oR

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