To Pause with Joy

This third week of Advent my pause is about JOY.  Joy is the highest vibration on the planet, according to my friend, Jane.  She signs her letters and e-mails, “EnJoy, Jane.”  She inspires me to savor the joy she expresses in her facebook postings about what brings her joy and colors her life.

Life brings us challenges and suffering, but even at the bottom of the manure pile, Joy is always waiting for us to discover her vibrant transformational presence.  Advent is about waiting and wondering.  Joy is one of my favorite discoveries when I wait and wonder in life.  Joy is God for me.  When I feel joyful, I am in the presence of everything that is good, loving and possible.

I’ve come to believe that joy is at the root of every emotion I experience.  We were born from the joy of the Lord.  Joy is our natural being and nature.  When our hardships, longings, self-flagellations obstruct our God-given joy, it’s time for an intervention.  Whenever I’ve fallen from the perch of who I am and where I think I’m going, I know that I’ve lost my joy somewhere, and when I find where it’s hiding, I’ll discover my true self, my dharma, my oomph, and my love, light and laughter.

Joy is asleep in my bed when I feel sorrow, sadness, or not enoughness.  Gibran called Joy and Sorrow inseparable in his book, THE PROPHET.  Joy, like sorrow, is a choice, but it doesn’t feel that way when I overflow in celebration of a great happiness or mourn with grief, longing, and pain at a death, sorrow, or suffering.  Joy and sorrow are opposite faces of all that we’re made of and sourced from–the experiences that grate us into puzzle pieces and the connections that complete the puzzle’s beautiful design.  Joy brings me home to myself, God, and all I savor.  Its antithesis can tear from me the ability to discern how to navigate to anywhere else than lost and broken, stuck and sad.

I trust (because I trust myself) that my joy always overtakes any adversity in its wake, because joy, for me, is God’s presence in my life.  At advent time we speak of angels, shepherds, wisemen–all joyful because of a shining ray of possibility born in the humblest of origins, for the joy and hope of all. At advent we wait for joy. We wait and we wonder when it will arrive and how we will meet/greet it when it appears. We know the story in the Bible. How do we live it in our lives?

When my children and grandchildren were born, Joy colored every corner of my horizon.  When loved ones die, the horizons contain hidden joy in the sunrise and sunset reflecting my sadness.  Joy because they lived.  Sorrow because their physical bodies are no longer with me.

May we seek the joy in all experience and be ever mindful that even when we despair, suffer, and sorrow, Joy is waiting to enfold us in her grace.




Advent Week Two: A Pause for Peace.

Week Three Advent: A Pause for Peace

My breath prayer every morning is to be God’s peace and love in this world today. My vision for the world is that peace and love are intended by and for all creation. Every day I pray to bring my best self to the highest good. The highest good for me is love and peace for all.

I’ve practiced yoga for many years of my adult life. Yoga is more than asana poses on a mat. It’s a rigorous discipline of study and chosen ways of being and doing that support the growth of peace and grace in the world: my world and everyone in it. The vision for yoga is union, which, for the most part, is the realization of peace within oneself, congruence, enlightenment. Peace within, peace around, and peace emanating through and within all means of being, doing, having. Yoga is choosing peace. Yoga is being peace. Yoga is creating peace. Yoga is a means to create Peace incarnate. Yoga means union, and to be one with what is: Peace in a nutshell. It is a spiritual practice that serves the greater good.

Peace does not exist nor can it be realized without its nemesis: war. As a culture/society we rally with againstness, rather than embracing a vision. We come from something to battle against something; rather than standing for something , drawing to us the positive energy to flow with/toward our intended vision. We drive ourselves forward, rather than grace/pray our way toward what we vision. As a result, we get stuck in the mire of muddy, stagnant water—smelly, contained, removed from hope and inspiration, reaching for judgment, control, right and wrong to rescue us; rather than trusting our selves to live our yoga to the peace, hope and joy we seek.

Life is a conundrum—full of irritating lessons, exhausting failures, and laborious endeavors to persevere, maintain, and deliver what we think we are and believe. Freedom comes from going to the mat and being present to the unknowing, the beingness, the pure peace created in that space, in that moment.

True peace can’t be bottled or sold—only glimpsed and savored in the moment. The more we become available channels for peace, the more fully we develop increased awareness of peace’s possibilities and compassion’s calls to garner individual responsibility for the collective. Through sharing both our strength and vulnerability, open and accepting of unknowing and uncertainty, we plant, nourish, and grow peace. True living grows congruent with piecing together our puzzle into the unity that is PEACE.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.


A Pause for HOPE.

Advent Week One: The Adventure called HOPE.

Idina Menzel wrote a song about “HOPE”. Its lyrics are below:

“This is a story of a bird with no wings, but certain that it could fly.
Sailing on love, into the headwinds, forcing its way by and by.
If only we were as strong as this bird, our spirit would never die.
What do we name it? Hope is the right word. Hope is the bravest, most beautiful bird in the sky.”

“Hope is a bird, flies higher than others and keeps all our dreams alive.
Free of all doubt, perfectly fearless, fed by its will to survive.
Imagine ourselves becoming this bird, we can if we dare to try.
And seeing ourselves flying over the mountain, Hope is the bravest, most beautiful bird in the sky.”

“Only hope can light the way. Only hope can heal the heart.
Only hope can keep the clouds from hiding the moon and the stars.
If only we were as strong as this bird, our spirit would never die.
What do we name it? Only one word.
HOPE is the bravest most beautiful bird in the sky.”

“This was a story of a bird without wings and rose above everything.
Never was giving up hope.”

Hope. A conscious choice to connect to possibility. Possibly, the highest healing vibration on the planet. As we begin this advent season, may our waiting and wondering be graced with the intention of hope, the vision of good, love, and possibility. May our lives be graced with hopeful expectancy and wonder. Life is a miracle. May we never forget.

Love, Carol

A Pause: Four Paws. Week Six: Beginning Again…

A Pause: Four Paws.
Week Six: Beginning Again…

Post-transplant, Gerry, Buster and I moved back to our Carmel home. It was quite the endeavor getting there…We had business interests in La Porte, tenants (who mutilated our Carmel home and yard), ongoing doctoring, and my need to experience independence after a dependent, interdependent HILDA experience. So much of my being and doing during my 14 years with CLL had been responsive and reactionary. The solace, the peace of positivity, the ever-consistent, unconditional physical representations of divine, unconditional love for me were our animals.

From my first pet at age 9 to our beloved 2-year-old Micah (my age today of almost 60), canine and feline family members have brought me home to the holiness, the unconditionality, the ever present, always trusting nature of God. GOD. Maybe, Dog spelled backwards or the mystery of mysteries in the wonder of a cat? Animals are spirit in the purest incarnated form because they grow, change, adapt, adopt, maneuver, maintain, cuddle, and remain—gifting who I choose to be with a sense of who I can be as seen through their eyes. Our animals’ models of living through their senses, their intuition, their loyalty, and their hearts remind me that animals are mirrors for me, just like people are. My loving, learning, gifts and growth from every animal I’ve loved has taught me who I am and who I want to be.

My most profound experience of loving, learning, and God came from Buster Martyn “Peanut Butter” Brown. My affinity with Buster has been such a light in my life—from my first dream about him, to the adoption of our border collie/lab, Micah, two years ago. Even now, I feel almost guilty preferencing that Brown brother puppy above all the others—it really wasn’t that way. Buster brought me home to myself. He helped me believe I could heal. He taught me that everything good is possible—through his example, his grit, determination, and love.

Buster inspired my healing adventure throughout HILDA. He also entertained all of us by the creative manner he mischievously maneuvered my sister’s kitchen when he was at her home and she wasn’t. Buster used to find ways to steal food and never show guilt or remorse about it (although his witnesses, Charlie and Barkley always showed shame and chagrin for the unremorseful imp that Mr. Brown Brown was!). In his almost 13-year-old life, Buster survived 2 TPL surgeries, infections, complications, and infinite cones of shame; however, it never seemed to dim his luster and joy at being alive. We called him the world’s most expensive dog because of how he defied expectations, reinvented protocol and emptied our wallets with his shenanigans. I admired his pluckiness, his creative adventuring mind, and the fact that he always overcame the odds, the rules, the whys, hows, and wherefores. He was fearless (except for fireworks and loud booms), and I always felt that a part of our first Roth dog, Katie, had incarnated in him. The way his leg stuck out and he needed surgery like Katie did. The way he’d come to my side of the bed in the morning, like Katie did. His beautiful brown coat and his joyful, loving spirit, just like Katie.

Protecting myself from the pain of losing the pets of love by assigning them titles like inherited, belonging to another, or transferred/transplanted didn’t remove the pain of their deaths. Death hurts because I love. Animals’ lives may be shorter than humans, but all of us get to die, to begin again. The unknown. The not knowing is tough, and it’s true for all sentient beings. We never grow courage from knowing, and we never learn to love without loss. Buster allowed me to be fully present with him—my happiness, despair, sorrow, excitement, pain, fear, questions, and celebrations. He was the joy dog because of every emotion I know, JOY is the center. Joy is the presence of God. DoG.

Buster would eat anything and everything—All the poisonous things known to kill dogs and humans—we adventured through his imbibing, recovering and surviving ( with great aplomb!) all of it. The time he ate the wrapped-to-be mailed box of Christmas presents, including boxes of Fannie Mae, (dark chocolates, milk chocolates, mints, cashews)and a bag of Starbuck’s Christmas blend coffee, we were really worried. He had chewed his way through every single one of of the wrapped packages hidden in the bedroom at the cottage, devouring their contents. When we returned home late in the evening and discovered what remained, we called the emergency vet and tried for several hours to follow their protocol to help purge him of the harmful contaminants he’d consumed. Finally, we decided to travel to the emergency clinic twenty miles away to get more treatment. On the way, he finally expelled what he’d eaten, all over Gerry and the backseat of Gerry’s pristine Prius. Needless to say, we never bought Fannie Mae again, nor did we leave wrapped packages within Buster’s reach.

Buster’s tail was wagging. He was none the worse for the wear. A whole plethora of Buster stories could fill a book of survival stories from on the brink, at the edge adventures. He was joyful throughout.

As Buster aged, his spine degenerated. Our vet told us that Buster was in constant pain.

Buster got his leash whenever he wanted to go for a walk. He ran out to get the paper every morning. His tail wagged no matter what, and he greeted me every morning by coming to the side of my bed with kisses and happy hellos.

Buster started to need help going up and down the stairs. He couldn’t maneuver getting up in the infamous red leather chair (the one chair that every Roth dog, post Katie, was allowed to sit in). We could barely walk around the block. At one point, on one day, when he got his leash for me, we barely made it to the end of the driveway.

His appetite remained great. His cast iron stomach survived throughout his entire life. Truly amazing!

In February 2015, I saw he was in such pain that I called our vet to schedule our trip to the rainbow bridge for the following afternoon. Andrew and our neighbors came to say good-bye to Buster. I cuddled with him all day and night.

By the next day, I looked at him and asked, “Are you really ready to go? It’s your call. I want to honor you.” Buster rallied and we had some really good months before I heard him crying in the middle of the night, far away from our bedroom where he usually slept. I heard him moan and walk in pain, trying to get comfortable.

The next day, we escorted beloved Buster Brown (the guy who inspired me throughout my transplant, before, after, and even today) to the rainbow bridge. I knew it was the true and honorable choice, and I felt at peace, grateful for his life, and sad for my loss. The love-gratitude and grace I received from Buster carried me over some extraordinarily rough places for one of the toughest journeys of my life. I am forever grateful to Brown Dog.

After Buster died, we reinvented a new life without a family pet. I finished and published my first book. We could leave on a trip at a moment’s notice, no animal tying us down, needing to be fed, walked or attended. Sometimes my grief was an indescribable ache, and yet the freedom was pretty amazing, something we’d never really known before in our adult lives.

Every day, however, I would look at the want ads in the paper, looking at the puppies available for adoption with a wistful yearning and then an admonition to stop what I was doing immediately.

When I daydreamed about puppies, I imagined a rescue dog, a puppy who really needed our love, our care, our home. As it was, I only knew AKC Labrador Retrievers. I kept coming back to the made-up thought that Katie was my one dog, Charlie was David’s, and Buster was Andrew’s. The only other member of our family who hadn’t had his personal puppy in his adult life was Gerry. A seed was planted.

One mid-September morning, the paper’s pets for sale section included an advertisement for a border collie/lab mix. The puppies for sale were located at an Amish farm in Milroy, Indiana. The ad appeared for over a week before Gerry and I discussed it. He had noticed the listing just like I had. Memories of our trips to Canada fishing at Dryberry Lake included the fishing camp where we stayed as a family, and the owner, Louis’ marvelous border collie/lab mix named Roscoe. Roscoe was the smartest, fastest dog we’d ever seen. He led us where we needed to go and independently navigated the wilderness and wonder of a fly in fishing camp. Gerry always remarked that he’d like that kind of dog. A seed was sprouting.

One weekday afternoon when we were between adventures, Gerry suggested we travel to the Milroy Amish farm to check out these puppies we read about in the paper. Who knows? Maybe I suggested it first…Anyway, we decided to go, but at the last minute I got cold feet, removed my checkbook from my purse and a puppy sized box from the car. I told Gerry, “We’ll just go look. No need to purchase today.” A seed was watered.

When we reached the barn where the puppies were, it was almost like a fairytale. Budweiser Horses in a stall, goats standing up with their hooves on fences, smiles on their faces; chickens and roosters, kittens galore, and the cutest litter of little black and white puppies wagging around the dirt floor of the barn. The mother of the pups was a yellow Labrador retriever, and the father was a neighboring black and white border collie. A sweet little boy puppy kept looking up at me, his mother beside him, also looking up at me. The rest of the puppies kept their gaze before them or on each other. The mother’s look almost implored me to take her boy. Her black dog son was endearing and special.

I asked myself, “Does this meet our criteria? Is this a rescue dog?” The food fed to the animals was Alpo (the one food our vet admonished us never to feed our dogs!). The disgruntled Amish mother just wanted to get rid of the pups, not even remembering the date they were born. My questions led me to an affirmative response. The amount they wanted for a puppy, I had in cash in my wallet, and our vet was right on the way home. This seed couldn’t be ignored. It was already blooming.

I cradled a precious black puppy in my arms as we drove north to our vet and then to our home. Gerry suggested that because of his Amish origins, we gift our puppy a Biblical name. We named the new addition to our family, Micah, after one of my favorite old testament scriptures in Micah 6:8. Basically, the scripture says that God made everything good. What does God require in return? That we do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly. Great advice for a puppy, his dad, and for me. Scripture I savor as a learner/lover of life, writing this pause, always beginning again and again.

Life unfolds, and life goes on. It’s ours for the choosing and through all of the changes, we always get to begin again.

Throughout our lives, teachers, mirrors, beauty, and synchronicity light our ways to growing fully into who we are created to be. Some of our greatest teachers of beginning again are the pets we call family.

Thank you, Life. Thank you, God.

Thank you, Buster. Thank you, Micah.



A Pause for Thanksgiving

I have so wanted to put into words how I feel about gratitude, gratefulness and thanksgiving. When I look up how the words are defined, they fail to create themselves without each other. Perhaps, that’s how grateful, thankful, magical thinking works. Maybe, I could add appreciation, kindness, and the awesomeness of grace to the transformational power of gratitude. And, maybe, that’s how we, as a collective, traverse the great divide to unity. Thanksgiving. When I focus on what is good, what is possible, seeking the universal Love lurking above, below, and all around us, I learn to pay attention to the opportunities to create, vision and experience gratefulness, no matter what. When I witness with willingness and readiness to embrace what I intend and vision, as a seeker, a pilgrim, a holy rover; as a soul in search of living my dharma; making a difference in our here and now; I experience the adventures of miracle making. In a tumultuous world that longs for hope, joy, peace, and love: the inspirations of an approaching Advent, Hanukah, winter holiday season bring the presence of miracles front row center: Waiting and wondering into miraculous possibility.

I’ve struggled to find a way to worship in a world where the witness of goodness, love, and possibility is not always in my direct frame of vision or reference. Prayer, Grace, and Gratitude are my lifelines to God when the world doesn’t do yoga with me. I used to think of the word, “Gratitude” as “Grace-reverenced attitude”. It was my portal to possibility, all of the time, no matter what. Now I pull out my armor every morning, before I read the paper or listen to the news so I can hold all of the pain and angst in our world. My calling is obstructed and convoluted. Everything feels cantankerous, volatile, almost outside of my ability to bring any transformative context to my experience.

Ah! Gratefulness! When I focus on what I am grateful for, my blessings, abundance, how wonderful life is and can be…transformation is ever available, present in the here and now, holding hands with hope, joy, peace, love, and the always magnificent grace. The human equivalent of accepting grace is bringing acceptance to/ for all sentient beings, choosing peace, working together with all of God’s creation. Meeting in the middle where love lives, the place where all are blessed, all are graced, and gratitude is the only color, creed, or political notion on every plain of infinity: my definition of heaven.

This Thanksgiving, may we give thanks for what is good and seek the possibilities that can be created with gratefulness. A “grater” shreds stuff into little pieces. All of us are created from grating experiences in our lives and from a greater Source for miraculous creation. May we combine our broken pieces for the greater good as we give thanks for our adventures: the lessons, the inspirations, the growths in awareness that have led us to today. Together we are One.

Thank you, God.

With Gratitude,


To Pause: Four Paws. Week Five: The Transplants.



To Pause: Four Paws
Week Five: The Transplants

In 2010, the Roth menagerie was growing used to our chaotic lifestyle between LaPorte in our tiny lake cottage and Indianapolis and Chicago for my doctoring appointments and therapy. Sometimes Kitty and the Brown brothers were boarded in La Porte at All Creature Features where they were lucky enough to be treated like royalty. Other times, we’d drag them with us or ask someone to take care of them while they stayed lakeside. UNTIL… one day, when our lives required all of us to be transplanted from our home to far off and separate locations to embrace the unknown.

This Pause is written about my stem cell transplant and the experience of how all of us maneuvered through the changes and learning it brought to our lives. The transformation that occurred brought growth and change for the Roth pack/herd/family (whatever you want to call us), and I give thanks for all of the love, sacrifice, service, kindness, patience, and grace that colored our living of those days.

In early summer of 2010, I met with Indiana Bone Marrow Transplantation, a group based out of St Francis/Franciscan Health in Beech Grove, IN. Our meeting was prompted by the realization that I had become chemo-resistant. After twelve years of living with CLL, CLL was winning, and Carol Margaret Hohlfelder Roth was running out of options. The only road to miraculous possibility was a bone marrow transplant/stem cell transplant (the difference between the two being where the cells were harvested from). The transplant was contingent on a number of factors: 1. Finding a donor that matched me. 2. Gerry and support persons able to take care of me for the amount of time I couldn’t care for myself (unknown). 3. A place to stay near the hospital for the times I was able to be treated as an outpatient. 4. Care for all of our animals as I couldn’t be around them as I was growing a new immune system.

Amazingly, the first three contingencies seemed to fall into place. Even more amazingly, David volunteered to take his exuberantly handsome Charlie Peter Brown; while my super sister, Susan Marie Hohlfelder Ferreri offered to care for Buster Martyn Brown AND Kitty Cat! Susan already had 1. Rocky, a 13-year-old black and white cat, 2. Barkley,12, an enthusiastic golden retriever, AND 3. three children aged 11,8, and 6. The Ferreri family lived in Florida, far away from our Indiana home, and the animals would need to be transported from our lake cottage to Tampa, Florida, a car ride about 18 hours or more if we factored breaks for the animals. My Super Sister suggested the entire family come to Tampa for our annual family reunion and talent show when we brought the animals to her. It was a go with our sons and so we set off for the Ferreri house, not yet knowing if I had a for sure donor and no date yet set. Hope led the way.

We boarded Charlie at All Creature Features. Until we learned a date for the transplant, we would enjoy at least one of our zoo mates’ loving presence. We survived the long journey and celebrated good, love, family and fun at our reunion. Good byes to family were tough. The animals, too, AND… Buster kind of owned my heart. Our farewell was especially challenging. Gerry and I drove north to deal with whatever would unfold our present into our future.

A few weeks later, we had a donor and a date. David came to pick up Charlie. We were empty nesters ready to take our healing show on the road to St Francis.

The transplant for me was a process of months, even years, hospitalizations, frequent transfusions, photopheresis, back and forth, hotel stays… I was lucky enough to visit our son, David’s home and see Charlie while I was in Indy. However, a sad diagnosis occurred for Charlie late fall of 2010, just as we were adjusting to the fact that he was again and officially David’s dog, as he truly always was (we would only get to visit him, kind of like the original intention of a grand-dog).

Charlie developed a painful limp and it was discovered he had a type of cancer called osteosarcoma. For a 100lb Labrador, there was no cure. David’s townhome contained several flights of steep stairs. David carried Charlie up and down the stairs to go outside. When Charlie was painfilled, unable to assist him as he would like, David asked us if we could take him to the cottage, a home with only a few steps. We were grateful to nurse Charlie that fall, to keep him comfortable until he could be reunited with Buster, which we hoped would be soon.


Fortunately, I was well enough to travel to Tampa to pick up our animals and bring them back home, or at least wherever we were. Gerry was not excited about bringing Kitty home, but he agreed he would, if Susie and Frank didn’t want to keep her. Susie loved Kitty so much that she enrolled Frank into adopting her, and Gerry did his first ever happy dance. We were reunited with our Buster and so happy to bring him home.

The Brown brothers greeted each other with some wags, some smells and some licks. Charlie was so doped up that he couldn’t interact, and Buster seemed to want to stay away from him. On January 13, 2011, we helped Charlie cross the rainbow bridge. When I returned to the cottage sobbing, I told Buster about Charlie. It was the only time I ever heard this brown dog howl, and howl he did. We huddled together and shared our grief with love for our beloved Charlie.

Kitty was incredibly happy at the Ferreri home. She felt loved and adored. Still the dominant kitty, she controlled access to the shared water bowls. I loved seeing her whenever I’d visit. Kitty had come into her own. She thrived the rest of her life as a Ferreri.

Kitty crossed the rainbow bridge just a short while ago. Susan was an amazing and beloved mama to Kitty Cat! Thank you, Susie-Re!

Nickson loved his life with Andrew.

Andrew was a grad student in Gainesville from 2009-2016, and Nicky travelled with him in his Honda whenever he drove to Indiana to visit us. Nicky remembered us, our homes, and especially Buster. Nicky was a true friend and brother to Andrew.

Andrew came home one day to find Nickson curled up on a blanket on the couch, having traveled in his dreams to the rainbow bridge. Andrew buried him on a hill by an oak tree, a beautiful spot for a beloved cat.

The story of Buster continues next week in the final week of this blog series. To summarize the gift of the transplant experience: We moved. We changed. We navigated our circumstances,whatever they were, as well as we were able. Most of all, wherever we were, there was love, hope, goodness and possibility.


Grace and Gratitude: Thank you!

Thank you, God!

Thank you, Family!


To Pause: Four Paws. Week Four: The Transferee.


To Pause: Four Paws.
Week Four: The Transferee.

This week’s pause concerns a gray, with tan and white markings, fluffy, furry feline named “Kitty Cat.” Her original name, gifted by our elder son was a variation between “Kitty” and something entirely different than what we called her.

Kitty was born in November 2003, and she came home to our college aged son and his next-door neighbor girlfriend in Bloomington, IN around Christmas that year. The relationship between David and his kitten-adopting neighbor became more of a friendship, and although they shared Kitty Cat, David got custody, and when he needed to travel out of town right after Kitty Cat was spayed and declawed, he brought her home to us and our menagerie: his chick magnet dog, his brother’s brown dog litter-mate, and my father’s cat. When he returned from his skiing adventure, he no longer wished to own Kitty Cat and charged me with finding her a new home.

Because I’d gone through what I’d gone through with my Dad’s bird and dog before Nickson, I realized I couldn’t abandon this sweet kitten to the unknown. Kitty Cat was with us to win us—or so it seemed. The tale of Kitty is an entirely different kind of story. I adored that cat. She loved me. The males in our family irritated that cat. They didn’t like it that she hissed at them and attempted to rule the roost upon which they jointly perched. Those males included Charlie Peter Brown, Buster Martyn Brown, and Nickson Hohlfelder Roth, as well as the Roth male humans.

This week’s blog is the tale of Kitty Cat, an amazing cat with a unique personality, a huge heart, and a total disregard for people pleasing. She captured our attention, our intentions, and my heart. For Kitty, I am forever grateful.

When David dropped off Kitty before his IU ski trip to Aspen, she was fresh from surgery. We created a room for her upstairs in a bedroom where the puppies (Charlie and Buster were still puppy-like at 1+) couldn’t bother her. I learned right off the bat that Kitty Cat was not a shy cat. The door would open, and she would dart out into the hallway. If Charlie or Buster were in the vicinity, they would cower behind me in fear as she assertively hissed and pawed at them. If Nickson were upstairs and Kitty appeared, he raced down the stairs and into his safe place above the sauna. Kitty, at six months old, was Top Dog, Alpha Cat, and a terror for the Roth animal kingdom.

When David showed up for a weekend break from school, she would avoid him, hissing and complaining about his presence. She would hide under the mattress of our younger son, Andrew’s bed (which had a rip in the fabric below the mattress, allowing Kitty Cat to become angry and vocal when stuck within its confines). When David, Gerry, and Andrew attempted to rescue her, her anger raged at all of them in every feline tantrum form known to mankind. Kitty had a mind like a steel trap. She never forgot anything. As a result, the male human members of the Roth family were forever unfriended.

Kitty loved to fetch and retrieve balls, tiny wads of paper, string, toys. I’ve never seen a cat who was so retriever oriented. She never wanted the games to end, complaining when they did. She reserved her throne for my lap whenever I sat down, and would become angry if I removed myself from the chair before she was ready to accommodate.

With life circumstance, a move to LaPorte became necessary to manage the hotel Gerry purchased about five years after Kitty’s arrival at our home. Kitty Cat, 6-year-old Labrador Retriever brothers and 7-year-old Nicky accompanied us to our rental home in northern Indiana (We were unable to sell our Carmel home at the time, and our lake cottage, we believed, was too small for our menagerie). Four animals, a workaholic husband, one sick mama (me!) situated ourselves in a lovely three-bedroom cottage with gardens, spacious rooms and yard. We planned to lease this home until our larger Carmel home would sell.

It was very entertaining witnessing the way all four animals could corner an errant mouse and none of them know what to do with it. Our adventures with these four also included some Zen moments. I would meditate every morning in our living room: Charlie and Buster curled up by my feet on a rug, Nickson on the sideboard, and Kitty on my lap. The only distractions were the bats in the chimney and the howls, barks, and meows of our foursome trying to scare them away.

When I became so sick I couldn’t maintain the rental home, its rooms, gardens or yard, we decided our lake cottage of 480 square feet was a better option. Andrew decided he wanted a cat, and he and Nickson shared  a most special bond. Before our move from rental home to cottage, he drove to LaPorte to adopt Nickson, with whom he had always been a favorite. I remember as they drove away, collapsing into myself with the pain of releasing that sweet cat. I was sick enough I didn’t know what the future would bring. I was overwhelmed with four animals, and cats weren’t my strong suit. Still, Nickson and my father were intertwined in my being. Seeing Nicky go south with awesome Andrew to a wonderful home, knowing I’d see him again and frequently, was great. My despair was my loss of what I had known and loved.

So the five of us, Gerry, Charlie, Buster, and Kitty and I, moved to our tiny lake cottage. It was challenging with Kitty and the dogs—She would taunt and tease them, and if left unattended, Charlie would eat kitty litter and Buster would devour her food. Gerry started working longer hours at the hotel because at home was such a circus.

Kitty started becoming really reactionary to Gerry. Number One husband and I had a talk about “what to do about Kitty.” He was not happy with her and suggested we find her another home. I cried and remonstrated, to no avail. Eventually, I put up fliers around town and at our vet.

I received a call from a chain-smoking woman who collected dolls and lived in a one-bedroom apartment in the heart of La Porte. She said she wanted another cat for her cat and could I bring Kitty by her apartment so she and her cat could meet her. When we arrived, she was dear with Kitty, and asked (because her cat was asleep under her bed) if I could leave Kitty for a few hours to see how the cats got along together. She also knew we owned the hotel in town and asked if she and her boyfriend could have a meal at our restaurant if she took the cat. I was rather taken aback, but I wanted Kitty to be happy with this woman and this woman committed to Kitty, so I said, “Sure.”
An hour and a half later she called me to tell me to come get Kitty. It wasn’t going to work out. Kitty had hidden underneath the woman’s filthy, cluttered bed, and I crawled and finagled to finally free her from her hiding place under piles of stained and musty clothes. No way did I want Kitty Cat to be subject to this stuff. I would stand up to Gerry Roth. This feline was staying with me. I would love her enough to erase Gerry’s line in the sand.

As it went, Gerry was understanding and worked to create a better relationship with Kitty. The woman, on the other hand, insisted on her free lunch, and then I never heard from her again.

Fast forward to summer 2010…Time for me to have a stem cell transplant. Time to farm out all the animals while the healing happens for all of us.

Kitty and Buster went to my sister, Charlie went to his David. The difference between the dogs and Kitty Cat was that Kitty was a transferee. She had been transferred, rerouted, reassigned for the majority of her life. And yet, as this story progresses in next week’s Pause, her life became blessed and a blessing because of circumstance, love, and grace.


Thank you, God, for the transfers of our lives.

Thank you, especially, for Kitty Cat!